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