Several Russian LGBT equality organizations protested the anti-gay propaganda measure advancing in the St. Petersburg legislature that calls for a fine of up to $1,600 for “public actions aimed at propaganda of pederasty, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.” The measure, which has passed the first of three readings, is intended to limit any public discussion or display about the LGBT community. Lawmakers in Moscow are considering similar legislation.
As Yury Garikov reports, the groups assembled in front of the Mariinsky Palace in hopes of talking to lawmakers on their lunch breaks and produced lunch plate signs that read, “Don’t feed people with homophobic laws” and “16 November — Day of Tolerance, Have A Happy One.” Police took the names of all the protesters and detained two for several hours once the group came together for a photograph:
Russia classified homosexuality as a mental illness until 1999 and decriminalized homosexual behavior in 1993, but homophobic attitudes remain. According to a recent study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, Russian attitudes towards gay people have declined since the Soviet era, making Russia one of only four nations — along with Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Latvia — to see a reduction in tolerance towards homosexuality. Fifty-nine percent of the Russian population “felt that homosexual behavior was wrong in 1991 compared with 64 percent in 2008, the study showed.” In another poll from last year, when asked “Whom wouldn’t you like to have as your neighbor?” respondents said alcohol and drug addicts, former criminals, and homosexuals.