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article imageRussia proposes ban on gay 'propaganda'

By Bryen Dunn     Nov 30, 2011 in Lifestyle
Saint Petersburg - A bill to impose a fine on anyone promoting "homosexual propaganda" was approved earlier this month in the first reading of Parliament in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Two readings are needed before the proposal by the deputies of the ruling party, United Russia, will become law in the city. Under the proposed law, any person committing a "public act" to promote homosexuality, bisexuality or transsexuality aimed toward minors may be fined.
The bill does not clearly define the term "public act". Defenders of human rights are concerned since it can be used to quell demonstrations in favour of gay rights. In Russia, gay pride events are already legally prohibited.
According to Vitali Milonov, one of the defenders of the bill, it is intended "to halt the flow of immoral information circulating among children and young people." Activists have circulated a petition against it. "It a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against LGBT people", said Nicola Duckworth, director of the Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.
Over the past week, protests and petitions have been increasing in the country, as citizens want to prevent St. Petersburg from joining the ranks of Arkhangelsk and Ryazan, two Russian regions which already prohibit the "propaganda of homosexuality" to minors. According to Russian media, two people were arrested while they were outside the offices of the local parliament.
The Memorial Centre against discrimination of St. Petersburg, a human rights advocacy group, said in a statement that the law "contradicted the Russian and international legal standards." In Russia, homosexuality was considered a crime until 1993, and as a mental illness until 1999, well after the fall of the Soviet regime in 1991.
Sign an online petition here.
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