St. Petersburg’s anti-gay propaganda law may still be pending before the city council, but Russian lawmakers are renewing their call to extend the ban against so-called “homosexual propaganda” to the entire nation. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said in a press conference yesterday that the St. Petersburg measure — which would fine groups or individuals who promote homosexuality, pedophilia, or transgenderism to minors — would ban “disgusting activity,” adding, “We should think about this topic on the federal level.” Regional governor Georgy Poltavchenko agreed, predicting that the ban would “serve for the good of public morals.” “There is nothing more abominable than propaganda regarding such things,” he said.
LGBT groups expressed dismay with the statements, conceding that the bill likely has the votes for passage. Prominent gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev tweeted, “Now Kozak and Poltavchenko have backed the bill on propaganda of homosexuality, even at a federal level. It really looks as if they’re going to pass it.” Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network, issued a statement on the group’s Facebook page, linking the government’s actions to those of the German Nazis:
Apparently “United Russia “ is doing so badly on the eve of the election that they have no choice but to try and please the Nazis. In all countries where Nazis came to power, they began precisely with the persecution of gays. Mixing homosexuality and pedophilia is blatant ignorance or blatant provocation, insulting millions of people — gays and lesbians. From a legal point of view this absurd law promoted by Kozak and Poltavchenko can not be assessed otherwise than propaganda of stupidity. From a political point of view it is a dangerous populism, which will only exacerbate social tensions in the country.”
Two regions of Russia — Arkhangelsk and Ryazan — have already adopted similar anti-propaganda laws that have been upheld by the Russian courts. But LGBT activists are pressuring St. Petersburg authorities to abandon the measure by asking the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights to condemn the bill. To the irritation of the Russians, the State Department has also spoken out against the proposal.
The ban passed the first of three readings on Nov. 16 and is expected to come up for a second reading some time “after parliamentary polls on December 4.”
Kozak is now claiming that his comments about extending the anti-propaganda law were “only about pedophilia.”