The Russia Parliament, the Duma, passed the first reading of a bill banning “propaganda of homosexualism” today with only one dissenting vote and one abstention — leaving the proposal just two more readings and President Vladimir Putin’s signature away from being law. It is unclear how “propaganda” and “homosexualism” will be ultimately be defined and enforced, but the law would punish public events and dissemination of information on LGBT lifestyles to minors with fines of up to $16,000 if passed.
The bill has caused an outcry from the global LGBT movement and domestic protests out of concerns the discriminatory nature will be used to effectively silence the LGBT community in Russia; Just earlier this week activists opposing the law were assaulted and twenty LGBT activists and militant Orthodox Christian activists were detained during protests outside the Duma this morning.
A similar local law in St. Petersburg previously used to arrest participants in pride parades was upheld by the Russian Supreme Court last year, but limited in scope to enforcement against direct appeals to minors to engage in homosexual activity. Other former Soviet states including Ukraine have promoted similar anti-LGBT equality agendas.