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Putin Expands ‘Gay Propaganda’ Ban, Threatening LGBTQ Crackdown

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 12/5/2022 Bloomberg News
People wave gay rights' movement rainbow flags during the gay pride rally in Saint Petersburg, on Agust 12, 2017. © Photographer: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images People wave gay rights' movement rainbow flags during the gay pride rally in Saint Petersburg, on Agust 12, 2017.

(Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law on Monday a sweeping ban on the positive portrayal of gay relationships in books, films, the media and the Internet, regardless of age.

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The ban on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” expands Russia’s 2013 law that prohibited the promotion of homosexuality to children. The new legislation now makes it illegal to present positive images to adults of gay relationships in media and advertising.

Vyacheslav Volodin, a Putin ally and speaker of the State Duma lower house of parliament, defended the measure as needed to fight against “sin” and “sodomy.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, urged Russia to repeal all discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, warning that the latest step “infringes even further on international human rights norms and standards.”

The new package of measures proposes fines of as much as 400,000 rubles ($6,400) for individuals who break the ban and 5 million rubles for organizations.

Information deemed to encourage children to change their gender would also be outlawed and subject to fines. 

The Kremlin has stepped up its public embrace of what it calls “traditional values” in the months since its invasion of Ukraine, a conflict it portrays as a showdown with what it describes as western attitudes alien to Russia.

The biggest threat for Russia’s LGBTQ community is that organizations defending its rights will be targeted and eventually shut down, said Igor Kochetkov, one of the founders of the Russian LGBT Network.

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