Russia is planning to toughen the punishment for the so-called "gay propaganda". ECOM is concerned about the future work of LGBT organizations.
In mid-summer, a draft law on the so-called “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” was submitted to the State Duma. It introduces fines of up to 400,000 rubles for citizens and up to 4 million rubles for legal entities. It covers both offline and the Internet, the media, books, audiovisual services, cinema, advertising which contain “LGBT propaganda, propaganda of pedophilia or display of LGBT and information that encourages sex change”.
What was before?
Let us remind you that Russia already has a law, adopted in 2013, that prohibits the so-called “gay propaganda”, which applies exclusively to minors. The new draft law toughens the punishment for LGBT propaganda regardless of age. Amendments are proposed to the Code of Administrative Offenses and five sectoral laws.
Will they pass the new law?
On October 17, public hearings were held. Among the participants were the Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin, deputies, representatives of relevant departments, parent and expert communities, public organizations and religious denominations. Unfortunately, everyone voiced their approval and supported the speedy adoption of the amendments. To finalize the draft law, an inter-factional group will be created and it is planned to submit amendments to the State Duma in the coming days. In case it is supported by deputies, and then by senators, in November the amendments will end up on the table of the President of the Russian Federation for signing.
How will the law affect LGBT activism?
The law will significantly reduce visibility of LGBT people in the public space or even make it impossible, because the representation of the LGBT community in films, books and media may be practically prohibited. The vague wording makes it possible to hold accountable book publishers, film distributors and Internet sites that raise awareness of the LGBT community rights violations. The “gay propaganda” law created online barriers for Russian LGBT rights organizations by requiring their websites to be labeled 18+. But if the proposed bill passes, then those sites are likely to be shut down.
ECOM is concerned that the law will make life and work more difficult for everyone who works with the LGBT community, from activists to researchers:
- ECOM condemns the adoption of this draft law as stigmatizing and discriminating against LGBT people.
- ECOM is concerned that the adoption of this draft law will increase the level of crimes against LGBT people, as it was after the 2013 law.
- ECOM is concerned that HIV prevention and testing services among the LGBT community are likely to become less accessible. And people living with HIV may have difficulty accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) due to limited access to information.
- ECOM calls on the State Duma to recognize the discriminatory nature of the proposed draft law and its detrimental consequences for Russian society and reject it.