The United States has criticized a bill advancing in St. Petersburg, Russia which would outlaw “gay propaganda.”

The bill, which won overwhelming approval by lawmakers during its second reading this week, would criminalize “public actions aimed at propaganda of pederasty, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors.” Offenders face a fine of up to $1,600 under the bill proposed by the dominant United Russia party.

“We are concerned by proposed local legislation in Russia that would severely restrict freedoms of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, and indeed all Russians,” a State Department spokesperson said. “As Secretary Clinton has said, gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

The spokesperson added that the agency was consulting with Russian officials and EU partners on the issue.

“We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens.”

“The United States places great importance on combating discrimination against the LGBT community and all minority groups,” the official added.

A final 3rd reading of the bill is expected to take place next week.

“The bill, which would violate Russia's own constitution as well as any number of international treaties, is an outrageous attack on the freedom of expression for all Russians – straight and gay. It must not be allowed to stand,” said Andre Banks, executive director of is a leading group working to defeat the measure.

Although homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993, anti-gay sentiment in Russia remains high. Banned gay pride parades and marches in Moscow have received the lion's share of media coverage, but officials have also cracked down on other events, including gay film festivals.