Russian lawmakers have proposed extending the ban on the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relations to minors to include adults as well, a senior legislator said on Monday.
Russia’s existing “gay propaganda” law, passed in 2013, has been used to stop gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists.
Authorities say they stand up for morality in the face of what they see as liberal, non-Russian values promoted by the West, but human rights activists say the law has been widely applied to intimidate Russia’s LGBTQ community.
Under the proposed changes, any event or action deemed an attempt to promote homosexuality may be subject to a fine.
“We propose to generally extend the ban on such propaganda regardless of the age of the audience (offline, in the media, on the internet, social networks and online cinema),” the head of the State Duma’s information committee, Alexander Khinshtein, said on the social media channel Telegram- his.
Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said last week that since Russia had left the European Council’s human rights watchdog after sending troops to Ukraine, it would now be able to ban the promotion of “non-traditional values”.
“Requests to legalize same-sex marriage in Russia are a thing of the past,” he said. “Attempts to impose foreign values on our society have failed.”
Homosexuality was a criminal offense in Russia until 1993 and was classified as a mental illness until 1999.
President Vladimir Putin has aligned himself closely with the Orthodox Church – which denies same-sex relations – and has made his social conservatism part of the narrative of Russia’s political and cultural revival that is now also being used to help justify the invasion of Ukraine.
A new constitution enacted in 2020 that extends the presidential term limit also defines marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman.
In the ranking of the most LGBT-friendly European countries in this year’s “European Rainbow” index compiled by ILGA-Europe, Russia is third to last.
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