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No nation-wide laws on fines for propaganda of homosexuality to be adopted

May 16, 2012, 17:31 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

No federal acts are to be adopted for the time being that would introduce fines for the propaganda of homosexuality, but local laws may stay effective there where they have been passed.

No amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses introducing fines for the propaganda of homosexuality among minors will be introduced. The State Duma’s law department made a negative comment on the relevant bill, saying that Russian legislation contained no mention of homosexualism or hints at the impermissibility of same-sex intimate relationships.

The draft law banning the propaganda of homosexuality was submitted to the State Duma by the legislative assembly of the Novosibirsk Region. The regional legislators suggested complementing the Code of Administrative Offenses with a special article on the propaganda of homosexualism among minors that would establish a fine of four thousand to five thousand rubles for individuals, of 40,000-50,000 rubles for officials, and of 400,000-500,000 rubles for legal entities.

The amendments will not be adopted, the first deputy chairperson of the State Duma’s committee for family, women’s and children’s affairs, Yekaterina Semyonova, confirmed to Novyie Izvestia. She believes that “the existing laws are enough for punishment.” Semyonova mentioned the articles of the Criminal Code establishing punishment for pedophilia, manufacturing of child pornography and the involvement of minors in prostitution, as well as the law on the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development, which is to take effect in September.

“Such bills merely foment interest in the subject they are targeted against. The more such bills, the greater the propaganda,” says State Duma member from the A Just Russia party, Gennady Gudkov, quoted by the RBC Daily. He said whenever the people in the country are prohibited from something, a stormy public response follows.

The bill proposed by the Novosibirsk legislators was in no way different from the documents that had been adopted by several regional legislatures earlier. In 2006 such a law was adopted and enacted in the Ryazan Region. Members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender) community tried to protest the bill in courts, but lost all cases, including the one in the Constitutional Court, which in 2010 ruled that the regional law does not abuse the Russian Constitution.

And in September 2011 legislators in the Arkhangelsk Region followed the example of their Ryazan counterparts, and in 2012 a similar legal act was passed in the Kostroma Region and in St. Petersburg. In the Samara Region such a bill has been submitted to the legislative assembly, and in Moscow the members of the city legislature are working on a similar document.

The initiative of the St. Petersburg authorities, who alongside the propaganda of homosexuality also prohibited the propaganda of pedophilia, caused heated debate in Russia and in other countries. Members of the St. Petersburg gay community staged several protest actions in a bid to prevent the legislators from adopting the document. Even the US Department of State at the end of 2011 came out with condemnation of the bill.

Neither regional level laws, nor the one submitted to the State Duma, contains a clear definition of what the propaganda of homosexuality is.

Earlier, the State Duma on four occasions in 2003-2008 turned down similar bills, saying they were unconstitutional, and the definition of the propaganda of homosexuality was very vague. The legislators claimed that it was impossible to draw a border line between private life and public propaganda.

“To my mind the law department of the State Duma has made a very clear comment on this very strange proposal. This is the right and consistent way from the legal standpoint, which allows for delicately and calmly removing the issue from the agenda,” said the director for development at the Moscow Helsinki Group, Andrei Yurov, quoted by the news agency Rosbalt. “Indeed, it is unclear what homosexuality is from the standpoint of law.”

In the meantime, the founder of the movement for the Moscow gay parade, Nikolai Alexeyev, has lodged a protest at the Smolninsky Court of St. Petersburg against the ruling of the justice of the peace, who found him responsible for the propaganda of homosexuality and fined him 5,000 rubles. On April 12 Alexeyev was detained at the entrance to the city governor’s residence with a poster with a saying once uttered by Soviet actress Faina Ranevskaya “Homosexuality is not a Perversion. Lawn hockey and ice ballet are.”

The justice of the peace ruled that the poster was propaganda of homosexuality among minors and fined the activist, who was the first one in St. Petersburg to have been punished under the new law.

In the meantime, the author of St. Petersburg’s ban on the propaganda of homosexuality, Vitaly Milonov came out with a new initiative – he suggested closing down the MTV music channel for causing people to go astray. The legislator said most of the programs on the channel were “cheap and mean.”

“The MTV music channel should be closed down as inhuman. Why should children be watching some young boys wearing only underpants make friends or get parted? It’s filth and smut,” Milonov said.


MOSCOW, May 16