The Russian Parliament is expected to
approve a bill which would outlaw gay propaganda, possibly as early
The measure is modeled after a law
which took effect last year in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg's law
criminalizes “public actions aimed at propaganda of pederasty,
lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors.” It also
bans public events that promote gay rights, such as Gay Pride parades
and gay rights demonstrations.
Pavel Samburov, the founder of the gay
rights group Rainbow Association, is quoted in Time
magazine as calling the bill an attempt to divert public
attention from growing discontent with President Vladimir Putin's
Polina Savchenko, director of the St.
Petersburg-based gay rights group Coming Out, said the new law would
make it illegal to mention the sexuality of famous gay Russians.
“This radical law undermines the
great legacy of our city's past and future. If it passes, it would
be illegal to mention that famed Russian composer of the 1812
Overture, St. Petersburg native Tchaikovksy, was gay,” said
Savchenko. “This law installs a culture of censorship in what was
once Russia's most cosmopolitan city and is a huge blow to the
freedom of expression in Russia. At a time when people all over the
world are opening up and coming out, this law puts Russia back in the
In a New
York Times editorial, Masha Gessen asserted that such laws,
now in place in more than half a dozen Russian cities, “have served
to mobilize and embolden Russia's neo-Nazis.” Gessen pointed to
the cold shoulder a group of gay rights activists protesting the
federal proposal received from policemen on Sunday in the city of
Voronezh. As a crowd physically attacked the demonstrators, police
merely stood by.