Russia expands ‘gay propaganda’ ban. What’s in the new law?

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On November 24, the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, unanimously passed the final bill. The law was adopted in 2013 and the new package of laws makes it broader and stronger.

LGBTQ flag

ILGA-Europe ranks Russia 46th out of 49 European countries for LGBTQ+ inclusion (representative).

By Tirtho Banerjee: ‘Summer in a Pioneer Tie’, a love novel about Yuri, a 16-year-old different boy and Volodya, a 19-year-old graduate student, written by Elena Malisova and Katerina Silvanova, was a runaway hit and made waves everywhere.

And no doubt, it’s the latest catalyst for legislation that expands Russia’s restrictions on promoting ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda’, which Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Monday. It is a new crackdown on the LGBTQ+ community and bans public expressions of “non-traditional sexual relations” within the Russian Federation.

On November 24, the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, unanimously passed the final bill. The law was adopted in 2013, and the new package of laws passed with a clear majority in the Russian parliament makes it broader and stricter.

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2013 law extension

With the new law coming into force, attempts to promote homosexuality – whether in media, advertisements, films or social media – within the country will attract a heavy penalty.

Those doing so can now be fined up to 400,000 rubles ($6,370 or Rs 5,24,158) for “LGBTQ+ propaganda” and up to 200,000 rubles ($3,185 or Rs 2,62,079) for “displaying and encouraging LGBTQ+ information”. Can. Gender among Adolescents”. For organizations, the fine can go up to five million rubles ($80,000 or Rs 65,83,880).

A foreign national who violates the law can face arrest and deportation for up to 15 days.

Any march that suggests support for gays is illegal and gay rights activists can now be jailed by Russian authorities under the new law.

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The new law prohibits the promotion or “glorification” of same-sex or LGBTQ+ relationships, gender reassignment surgery or the normalization of same-sex relationships among the Russian population. No one will be allowed to publicly express a non-heterosexual orientation or promote that they are “normal”.

A 2013 law prohibited dissemination of information to minors. The new law expands the scope and makes such promotion illegal even among adults. The new law bans propaganda about pedophilia.

Tanya Lokshina, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The 2013 ‘Gay Propaganda’ law was a stark example of political homophobia, and the new draft law expands it in a broader and stricter way.”

In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights said the 2013 law was discriminatory, promoted homophobia and violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

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How will it affect?

ILGA-Europe ranks Russia 46th out of 49 European countries for LGBTQ+ inclusion.

After the ‘gay propaganda’ law came into effect in 2013, Russia used it across Russia to shut down websites providing valuable information and services to teenagers and prevent LGBTQ+ support groups from working with young people. In expanding the 2013 law, Russia increased stigma against members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as their families. This will make the ‘predisposed bias’ worse.

The new law will also be used to ban independent book fairs and film festivals, thereby curtailing freedom of speech. (Under the new law it is prohibited to provide rental or streaming certificates for films with content that promotes homosexuality).

In the past, Russia has cracked down on many LGBTQ+ groups – such as the Sphere Foundation – and the new law will give them more teeth to pounce on. Some may even be tagged as “foreign agents” who receive foreign funds to promote anti-Russian “political activities”.

A 2019 poll indicated that 68 percent of the young Russian population thinks that the LGBT+ community is “normal”. The new law will do little to change this trend. And the popularity of ‘Summer in a Pioneer Tie’ is enough proof of that.

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