Protesters in Russia held a gay ‘Kiss-In’ on the steps of the Russian parliament, demonstrating against a bill that would make ‘homosexual propaganda’ illegal.
The new law, now going through approval process, would render scenes like these, of gays kissing in public, as illegal and could result in fines of up to $16,000. The proposed bill would outlaw what is labeled, ‘homosexual propaganda,’ which would cover anything from gay-rights leaflets to gay pride marches.
LGBT rights defenders were pelted with eggs and sprayed with ketchup, their pro-gay signs torn away amid a clamor of anti-gay obscenities and a breakout of scuffles. 20 people were detained and 12 people came away with injuries.
Veteran human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva said the new law was “medieval” and was probably meant as a pretext to outlaw gay rights marches.
“Animosity towards gays and lesbians is widespread in society, and the Duma, which has approved a number of unpopular laws, hopes it can win some popularity with an anti-gay law,” she told Reuters. “It is relying on the ignorance of people who think homosexuality is some sort of distortion … in another brutal tightening of legislation,” she said.
The backers of the law have written in defense of the legislation that the law is necessary to protect children.
“Such widespread propaganda of homosexuality negatively affects the formation of a child’s personality, blurs its ideas of the family as the union of a man and woman, and in fact creates grounds for limiting the freedom of choice of sexual preferences when it grows up.”
The law itself struggles to define what it means by “homosexual propaganda” and it is feared that the law could be interpreted to mean any “unorthodox” voicing of opinion or policy.
Putin has gone on record, criticizing gays as stumping Russia’s effort to reinvigorate a declining population and has increasingly looked towards conservative elements of Russian politics to stabilize his hold over government. In 1993 Russian jail terms criminalizing homosexuality were taken out of law but much of the gay community remains underground and cautious.
Gay rights group All Out said in a statement, “This draft law is one of the most blatant of the attacks on civil rights for Russian citizens in recent months. The crackdown has extended across all forms of civil liberties, including freedom of speech and expression.”
Among the global community Russia has been recently criticized for its detention of the punk group, Pussy Riot, who have loudly voiced their concerns over LGBT rights and were charged for ‘premeditative hooliganism.’ In some parts of Russia, anti-gay propaganda laws are already in place and have been used to fine singer Madonna 10 million dollars for promoting gay love during a concert last year. Similar fines are now being filed against the singer, Lady Gaga, who is also a defender of LGBT rights.
Since Putin’s reelection, protests have occurred on an unprecedented level, but any form of protest in Russia is still a sensitive. So under the current administration, a gay ‘Kiss-In’ on the steps of parliament, is a strong and courageous act of protest.