After Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, unanimously voted for an anti- LGBT bill that bans “homosexual propaganda” nationwide, many human rights groups slammed the governmental body for supporting the legislation.
“This bill is outrageous and incredibly dangerous for millions in Russia – both gay and straight. This is a dangerous crackdown on free speech. No one will be safe from the witch hunt that will ensue, not gay people, not straight people, not even foreign businessmen and women traveling to Russia,” All Out co-founder Andre Banks said in a press release.
“The crackdown against gays and lesbians in Russia is very troubling. While the rest of Europe is building a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity because of who they are or who they love, Russia’s policies are making life more dangerous and less free for not only gays and lesbians, but all of Russia,” he continued.
As a response, All Out created a petition that urged Russia to re-consider their crackdown on “homosexual propaganda” as well as noting the major influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on Russian politics. So far, the petition has gained 86,000 signatures.
While the European Council has pleaded for Russia to modify their anti-LGBT legislation, Russia sees the law as a necessity to protect the youth, maintain order under Putin’s rule and preserve Russian Catholic values.
“This anti-gay crackdown does not represent Russian values. These are the values of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose conservative ideology will only drive Russians further into fear and isolation. Russians, like all people, want to be free,” Banks added.
Also included in the new legislation is a law that will punish anyone who organizes an LGBT pride parade, as well as any person who insults another’s religious beliefs, with a criminal offense of three years in prison or $9,200 fine.
The anti-LGBT laws will now be considered by the Senate as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is notorious for his anti-LGBT views.
“This new law is symptomatic of President Putin’s increasing authoritarianism and his crackdown on civil society. It violates the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, and the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia has signed and pledged to uphold,” said Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in a press release.
“Although the legislation is ostensibly aimed at prohibiting the dissemination of so-called ‘gay propaganda’ to young persons under 18, in reality it will criminalize any public advocacy of LGBT equality or expression of same-sex affection where a young person could potentially see it. It is one of the harshest laws against LGBT freedom of expression anywhere in the world.”