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Russia 'Gay Propaganda' Ban Backed By Parliament, Which Has Now Passed

* Bill overwhelmingly approved by lower house

* Russian police break up "kiss-in" over anti-gay law

* Critics say bill is Kremlin move to rally support

* US urges Moscow to uphold global rights commitments (Adds U.S. State Department reaction, paragraphs 10-12)

By Gabriela Baczynska and Alissa de Carbonnel

MOSCOW, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Russia's parliament backed a draft law on Friday banning "homosexual propaganda" in what critics see as an attempt to shore up support for President Vladimir Putin in the country's largely conservative society.

Only one deputy in the State Duma lower house voted against the bill, but passions spilled over outside the chamber, where 20 people were detained after scuffles between Russian Orthodox Christians and gay activists who staged a "kiss-in" protest.

"We live in Russia, not Sodom and Gomorrah," United Russia deputy Dmitry Sablin said before the 388-1 vote in the 450-seat chamber. Sablin said Russia is an old country "founded on its own traditional values - the protection of which is dearer to me than even oil and gas."

Veteran human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva described the draft law as "medieval" and said it was intended to appeal to conservative voters after months of protests that have sapped Putin's popularity.

"It (the Duma) is relying on the ignorance of people who think homosexuality is some sort of distortion," she said.

The legislation has served to deepen divisions in society since Putin returned to the presidency in May and began moves seen by the opposition as designed to crack down on dissent and smother civil society.

During the process, Putin and his supporters have underlined what they see as conservative, traditional Russian values.

He has drawn closer to the Russian Orthodox Church during this time, hoping the support of one of the most influential institutions in Russia will consolidate his grip on power.

Homosexuality, punished with jail terms in the Soviet Union, was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, but much of the gay community remains underground and prejudice runs deep.

The United States, which is at odds with Putin over a range of human rights issues, voiced concern about the measure.

"We are deeply concerned by this draft legislation in Russia that severely restricts freedom of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals - and indeed for all Russians," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington.

"We call on Russia as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to meet its obligations to protect its citizens' rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression without discrimination," she added.

SCUFFLES OUTSIDE DUMA

In a sign of the passions caused by the bill, clashes broke out between supporters and opponents outside the Duma, a few hundred metres (yards) from the Kremlin in central Moscow.

Supporters, some of them holding Russian Orthodox icons and crosses, cheered and threw eggs as police hauled away gay activists, one of whom was splashed with green paint. Police said 20 people had been held.

The measure must be passed in three readings by the lower house, approved by the upper house and then signed by Putin to go into force. It would ban the promotion of gay events across Russia and impose fines of up 500,000 roubles ($16,600) on organisers.

Supporters of the measure welcome moves that would allow the banning of gay rights marches and complain about television and radio programmes which they say show support for gay couples.

"The spread of gay propaganda among minors violates their rights," ruling United Russia party deputy, Elena Mizulina, who chairs the Duma's family issues committee. "Russian society is more conservative so the passing of this law is justified."

Putin's critics say the law is the latest in a series of legislative moves intended to stifle the opposition.

In a sign that Kremlin-loyal lawmakers hope to eliminate all opposition in the house, two deputies who joined in street protests against Putin said on Friday that their Just Russia party threatened to kick them out if they continued to do so.

Public approval for Putin, who is now 60, stood in January at 62 percent, the lowest level since June 2000, an independent pollster said on Thursday.

PUTIN AND THE CHURCH

Putin, a former KGB spy who has criticised gays for failing to help reverse Russia's population decline, has increasingly looked for support among conservative constituencies and particularly the church to offset his falling support.

The Russian Orthodox Church, resurgent since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, has spoken out against homosexuality. Putin drew closer to the clergy during the trial and sentencing this summer of three members of the Pussy Riot punk band over their protest in the country's main cathedral.

Anti-gay propaganda laws are already in place in Arkhangelsk, Novosibirsk and St Petersburg, Putin's home city. A Russian court in November rejected a $10 million compensation claim against U.S. pop star Madonna by a group of anti-gay activists who accused her of hurting their feelings by promoting homosexuality at a St. Petersburg concert.

Some deputies raised concerns the new measure would be misused, asking how it would define homosexuality, and one said the house was meddling in issues beyond its scope.

"Do you seriously think that you can foster homosexuality via propaganda?" the only deputy who voted against the bill, United Russia's Sergei Kuzin, asked its authors during the debate.

In Moscow, city authorities have repeatedly declined permission to stage gay parades and gay rights' allies have often ended in arrests and clashes with anti-gay activists. ($1 = 30.0565 Russian roubles) (Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow and Paul Eckert in Washington; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Myra MacDonald and Will Dunham)

by Anonymousreply 2501/31/2013

From Pravda

"Anti-gay laws promote gay propaganda in Russia"

On Friday, Jan. 25, the State Duma gave the first reading to the draft bill on banning propaganda of homosexuality among minors. The discussion turned out to be quite a heated one. LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky cracked down on the bill, ripping it to pieces.

The bill was introduced by the legislative assembly of the Novosibirsk region in March 2012. The document stipulates penalties tor the propaganda of homosexuality among minors: for individuals from 4,000 to 5,000 rubles ($150-200), from 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($1,300-1,800) for officials and from 400,000 to 500,000 rubles for legal entities ($13,000-17,000).

As a matter of fact, the bill is a replica of the similar law that is currently in force in Saint Petersburg: the document contains the same same amounts of penalties. The bill was penned by deputy of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly Vitaly Milonov. Despite the media controversy, the law was passed in late February of 2012.

It was actually the media controversy that caused an avalanche of criticism of the bill from Vladimir Zhirinovsky. "Under the guise of propaganda of homosexuality, there is rabid propaganda of homosexuality going on. This weirdo in St. Petersburg started it, an for six months the media were saying - "he says," "he demands." "Finally, the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly passed the law. Afterwards, they passed it in some other regions, and now they want to pass in in Moscow. Then there was a brawl near the State Duma on Wednesday (supporters and opponents of the bill fought; the clashes reoccurred on Friday. - ed.)," said the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party during the morning session of the State Duma.

According to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, if deputies pass the bill, "people will be discussing it for a long time afterwards." "Then they will start passing it in all subjects of the Russian Federation, and again the press will be spreading it all," he said.

Zhirinovsky came to a somewhat paradoxical conclusion. "This will be exactly what the West needs." In Europe, reminded Vladimir Zhirinovsky, same-sex marriages and adoptions by same-sex parents were already allowed.

According to Elena Mizulina, the head of the Duma committee for family, women's and children's affairs, before May 23, it was expected to collect amendments to the second reading of the law. From this one may conclude that the bill will not be passed in the first reading.

Mizulina told Interfax news agency that the law could be adopted at the end of the spring session (i.e. in July), only if all amendments were coordinated. Otherwise, the law will be rescheduled for the fall.

Elena Mizulina also stated that there would be a work group established for the second reading, in which representatives of the gay community will be included.

by Anonymousreply 101/28/2013

"Russia’s proposed ban on gay propaganda is awful"

It is also so vague that almost everything in Russia is basically gay now

Have you heard about this Russian bill aiming to ban “propaganda of homosexualism”? It was just approved by an overwhelming majority in Russia’s lower house of Parliament, and it is expected to be signed into law by president Vladimir Putin.

And it’s awful. Seriously.

Not only would the law criminalize gay pride demonstrations and very basic forms of free expression, it would also penalize anything seen as promoting a gay lifestyle or gay culture to minors, punishing offenses like wearing rainbow suspenders with jail time or fines of up to $16,000. (I am not kidding about the rainbow suspenders.)

So what else is the propaganda of homosexualism? Glad you asked! Because, according to the insanely vague language of the bill, it is everything on Earth.

So here we go. Say goodbye to the following, Russia.

by Anonymousreply 201/28/2013

I love how they're now checking genitals to out the queers. Russia = Nazi Germany.

I'm telling you, they're going start up the camps soon.

by Anonymousreply 301/28/2013

Expect a mass exodus of Russian homosexuals and a surge in gay bars with death metal nights.

by Anonymousreply 401/28/2013

r5 makes a lot of good points.

by Anonymousreply 601/28/2013

Nuke the bastards

by Anonymousreply 701/28/2013

Not so bright, R5.

by Anonymousreply 801/28/2013

What about all the straight men in Russia who try to get their girlfriends or wives to make out with another woman for their entertainment.

Is that not promoting (female) homosexuality.

by Anonymousreply 901/28/2013

I said it once and I'll say it again. Russia is a hellhole. Nothing else can be said about it. At least during the Tsarist era it had some majestic charm. Now it is just a wasteland full of heroin junkies, AIDS, xenophobic racism and vodka fueled violence.

I usually don't make generalizations but I have NEVER met a kind, warm and friendly Russian. NEVER. I live in NYC and have come across many of them over the years and they are always cold, rude and predatory.

by Anonymousreply 1001/28/2013

Wow, for a country that even a hundred years ago was able to produce some of the most extraodinary music, art, and writing the world has ever seen, they are unbelievably backward and pathetic.

by Anonymousreply 1201/28/2013

Correction: [quote]It is people like you who are clearly the type to see a story...

by Anonymousreply 1501/28/2013

r13, our resident Freeper racist, who goes off on the 'coloreds.'

by Anonymousreply 1601/28/2013

R5, Russia is NOTHING like Western Europe.

All this is pretty funny considering that rumors about Putin's sexuality have been rampant for years. Another Hoover/Cohn self loathing ogre?

by Anonymousreply 1701/28/2013

r17 what are those rumors/stories?

by Anonymousreply 1801/28/2013

Putin is a closet case, hence the fear and loathing.

by Anonymousreply 1901/28/2013

Russia seems to be one of those places cursed with provincial leadership no matter how the rest of the world progresses, or even Russia seems to progress. It's like some generational trap that makes them embrace serfdom and gulags, over and over, in their many permutations. I think it's solely this reason why they're able to produce such great art/writing. Through great sorrow, great art derives.

I feel so bad for Russian gays.

by Anonymousreply 2001/28/2013

The miracle of the Beekman Boys was that they were able to win over the Russian people the way none of the other Amazing Race contestants were able to do.

by Anonymousreply 2101/28/2013

R14/16...fuck you. I'm far from being a freeper, asshole. I'm just not letting you get away with your bullshit comments. The only fundies that gets defended on this board are the Muslim fundies, and there's a reason for that. It's RACISM. YOUR racism. You differentiate between conservative believers based on their skin color. There was NO reason to even bring up the Muslims on this thread...none. But you had to, once again, take up the banner of the Muslim fundies overseas. Mormons, Christians, etc, all get excoriated here on a regular basis. But no criticism of the Muslim religion will be tolerated. That's bullshit PSEUDO-liberalism, not real liberalism. Ditto for screaming freeper at everyone who calls you out on your hypocrisy. At least I don't differentiate between conservative religious nutjobs...they all stink, to me.

by Anonymousreply 2201/31/2013

What's so funny about all of this nonsense is that Russians have the worst gaydar on the planet. It must be why there are so many irrelevant bans in the bill, because they wouldn't even be about to out Rip Taylor in a thong with Adam Lambert fucking him in the ass.

by Anonymousreply 2301/31/2013

[quote]The only fundies that gets defended on this board are the Muslim fundies

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! The funniest, insanest comment I've ever see here. That has never happened on here, you dingbat! Muslims are blamed for everything here. That poster is exactly right, and it's hilarious. The minute anything goes wrong when it comes to gays outside of the US (and not in the Middle East), it's 'the Muslims.' America or Israel killing people in the Middle East: 'They're Muslims. So what? They kill gays.' DL tried to blame the French protests against gay marriage on Muslims before they found out the particulars.

You are a Freeper, r22. Not only that, your assertion is like saying that DL was designed as a Right wing web site. Muslims are hated beyond belief on here, and with it comes far Right lunacy, while packaged in, 'I'm a Democrat. I'm a liberal.' The venom spewed is the same as that which is found on Freek Republic.

by Anonymousreply 2401/31/2013

[quote]if religious zealots are white, you want them held accountable for their homophobic persecution.

Those damn coloreds!

by Anonymousreply 2501/31/2013
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