New Laws Spell Disaster for Queers in Russia

July 10, 2013 in inQueery

In Russia, the lower House of Parliament, the Duma, passed two federal anti-gay legislative bills.

The first legislative bill was aimed at reforming and defining the concept of gay rights and equality as “[the spread of] information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual behaviour among children, suggesting this behaviour is attractive, and making a false statement about the socially equal nature of traditional and non-traditional relationships.” On Tuesday, June 18th, the law passed overwhelmingly 436 to 0, which bans the spread of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. What this means is that it is now illegal to tell children that gay people exist! Furthermore, the law also makes it illegal to distribute gay rights materials, and equate straight and gay relationships. Just minutes after passing this anti-gay legislation, the Duma also approved of the fines for “offending religious feelings,” this includes jail sentences up to three years, $3,000 for individuals who promote “non-traditional relations,” deportation, and special fines for foreigners.

Following on the heels of Tuesday’s legislation, on Friday, June 21st, the law once again passed overwhelmingly 443 to 0, banning adoption not only for foreign gay couples but single foreigners from any country where same sex marriage is recognized. According to Russian Parliament official Yelena Mizulina, “the adoption of this bill eliminates the chance for foreign persons of so-called non-traditional sexual orientation to adopt Russian children.” Furthermore, the deputy speaker of the Duma, Sergei Zheleznyak, rationalizes that “[if] a child [is] brought up by a gay couple, the child of course is seriously traumatized and develops a distorted notion of the surrounding reality.”

These new federal laws represent a major setback for LGBT and civil rights activists. The new laws demonstrate the increasingly incestuous relationship between the Russian Government and the Orthodox Church. The negative attitudes towards homosexuality are rooted in Russia’s history; when the Soviet Union criminalized male homosexuality and the penalty included up to five years in a hard labor camp.

Since homosexuality was recognized and granted equality in 1993, the Orthodox Church has been seeking reform to prevent further progress of Gay Rights. In 2012, 40 percent of Russians disagreed with the statement “Homosexuals should enjoy the same rights as others in Russia.”

LGBT and civil rights activists fear this increasingly hostile stance from the Russian Government and wider society towards homosexuals may contributed to a rise in homophobic attacks, like the incidents seen earlier this year.

Cherry Luu is a guest contributor at InQueery & has a background in Mental Health.
You can follow Cherry’s personal and business life adventures on Instagram