If two Communist Party lawmakers have their way, it will be illegal to come out as gay in Russia.
Communist Party MPs Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolay Arefyev have proposed legislation that would make “public expression of non-traditional sexual relations” illegal, punishable with fines ($64-$80) and up to 15 days in jail. Specifically, any “demonstration of one’s distorted sexual preferences in public places” would be considered a violation.
This proposal isn’t a far cry from what’s already illegal under Russia ban on “gay propaganda.” That law, upheld by the country’s highest court two years ago, prohibits any promotion or advocacy on behalf of “non-traditional relationships” that minors might be exposed to. Many activists have been arrested under the law for gay rights rallies and protests.
Nikitchuk and Arefyev’s law would go a step further by punishing gay people for openly acknowledging their sexuality, even if they don’t advocate for anything. That’s because Nikitchuk believes homosexuality is a “grave danger for any normal person and for humanity as a whole.” He told Izvestia that he doesn’t believe the “propaganda” law goes far enough. “In a biological sense, failure to reproduce is the same as death and this makes homosexuality a deadly danger for humanity.”
The bill is actually opposed by Vitaly Milonov, the sponsor of the original “propaganda” ban, because he believes public statements are already banned under his law.
Russia’s ban on same-sex relations was first lifted in 1993. Under the new law, sex between two men or two women would still be legal, so long as it was never publicly acknowledged as happening.
The new effort contradicts statements by President Vladimir Putin last month. He told 60 Minutes that claims of homophobia in Russia have been “exaggerated.” He doesn’t see “any infringement on the rights of gay people” and believes “we have no persecution at all.”