By Anna Peirano
Legislators passed a law Wednesday in St. Petersburg preventing the dissemination of “propaganda” promoting LGBT lifestyles.
St. Petersburg is not the first region in Russia to pass this legislation, and gay rights advocates across the world fear that it will not be the last.
The principal drafter of the law is Vitaly V. Milonov. He is a strong proponent of Russia’s Orthodox Church, and has referred to gays as “perverted,” and believes gays are trying to convert children.
Russian conservatives have said homosexuality is an imported mindset imposed by international powers to corrupt what Milanov has called the country’s “moral sovereignty.”
The new law passed with a strong majority – 29 to 5. It reads, “public actions, directed at the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors” includes “the targeted and uncontrolled dissemination of generally accessible information capable of harming the health and moral and spiritual development of minors.” The dissemination of this information over social media channels, protests, or groups could be punishable with fines up to $17,000.
Head of the Russian LGBT Network, Igor Kochetkov, fears what this law will do.
Kochetkov said, “Officially homosexuality will be considered illegal, something incorrect and something that cannot be discussed with children. It will create a negative atmosphere in society around gays and lesbians as well as our organizations.”
A member of St. Petersburg’s parliament who voted against the measure, Aleksandr Korbinsky, said on a Russian radio program that he, “…consider[ed]this law a provocation intended to divide society over a question that could have been used to teach people understanding.”
The new law must be signed by St. Petersburg’s governor, Georgy Poltavchenko, but is expected to face no opposition from him.