Date: 27 November 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Russian State Duma Approves Bill to Ban “LGBT Propaganda”

Russian lawmakers passed a new law that bans what authorities call “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” The proposals prohibit sharing positive and even neutral information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and publicly displaying non-heterosexual orientations, referred to as “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations and (or) preferences, pedophilia, and sex change.” It is yet another element of the state narrative in which Moscow pushes conservative values.

SOURCE: ГД может переформатировать проведение «правительственных часов» (duma.gov.ru)

Lawmakers say they are defending traditional values of the “Russian world” against a liberal West they say is determined to destroy them, an argument also increasingly being used by officials to convince some circles in the West. With the new law, the regime is continuing a years-long crackdown on the country’s embattled LGBT community. A similar law was adopted by the Kremlin in 2013 in an effort to promote “traditional values” in Russia. This year, lawmakers moved to ban spreading such information to people aged 18 and older. Lawyers and human rights campaigners say the law will criminalize any act or public mention of the LGBT community. Lawmakers rejected an amendment that provided for criminal liability for recidivism. The new bill outlaws all advertising, media, and online resources books, films and theater productions deemed to contain such “propaganda.” Individuals who spread or attempt to distribute what the bill calls “LGBT propaganda” will risk fines ranging between 50,000 and 400,000 rubles. Legal entities face fines ranging between 800,000 and 5 million rubles. Foreigners can be deported, according to the bill. The federal communications regulator Roskomnadzor now has the authority and responsibility to monitor all kinds of information in search of LGBT propaganda. Authorities will be able to block websites that contain prohibited information and refuse to provide special certificates to films that mentioned LGBT topics. As it often happens in Putin’s Russia, the vagueness of the bill’s language gives room for law enforcers to interpret them as broadly as they wish. Some publishers say up to half of the books could be affected and thus removed from sale under the new legislation. The new legislation vaguely defines “propaganda”, which could prohibit any, also neutral, reference to the LGBT+ community. What makes the whole situation more unclear is the distinction between “propaganda” and “demonstration.” Lawmakers cited an example of pride parades. Advertising, books, and films with positive presentations of LGBT people will be the “demonstration” of LGBT behavior, and if not––these will be labeled as propaganda. “Non-traditional relationships” could be featured only in paid VOD platforms unless the user enters a special code to confirm their age. If not, such content will be prohibited. LGBT campaigners say the new legislation, just like the previous one that had outlawed only promotion of LGBT lifestyles aimed at children, would apply selectively. The controversial law was nicknamed the “Answer to Blinken” law, after the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized it as a blow to freedom of expression on the eve of the third and final reading by the State Duma.

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