New Russian bill orders fines, arrest for public coming out as gay
State Duma lawmakers Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolay Arefyev want to amend the Russian Administrative Code with a new article listing “public expression of non-traditional sexual relations” as a violation.
An explanatory note attached to the draft reads that if this expression takes the form of “demonstration of one’s distorted sexual preferences in public places,” it must be punished with fines between 4,000 and 5,000 rubles ($64-$80 at current rate). And those who do this in educational and cultural establishments or offices of state and municipal authorities can face up to 15 days of arrest.
“I think that the problem is acute and urgent because it concerns the social diseases of our society and the moral upbringing of the younger generation. Unfortunately, the mechanism suggested in the 2013 law ‘On the protection of children against the information that harms their health and development’ has proved to be ineffective and this prompted us to develop new measures,” Nikitchuk said in comments with Izvestia daily.
The lawmaker also told reporters that he considered homosexuality to be a “grave danger for any normal person and for humanity as a whole” because it can affect children and grandchildren and prevent them from reproduction. “In a biological sense, failure to reproduce is the same as death and this makes homosexuality a deadly danger for humanity,” Nikitchuk said.
The two MPs stated that their bill is based on historical experience, both of the Soviet Union - when male homosexuality was a criminal offence punishable by prison sentences of between five and eight years - and “ancient times” when the anti-gay laws were much more severe.
“In Athens during the classical period homosexuals had to report their vice to the people’s assembly and got stripped of their civil rights. Those who tried to conceal it were either exiled or executed. The laws of Ancient Sparta were even stricter – there were no reports, anyone who got caught was executed,” read the explanations attached to the bill.
The communists’ initiative has already met with criticism both from the gay rights campaigners and, surprisingly, from St. Petersburg city lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, known as the main sponsor of the 2013 law banning gay propaganda to minors. Milonov said that the existing norms were sufficient because any public statement could also affect children and this is already banned.
Gay activist and lawyer Maria Bast said in comments to Izvestia that the bill “was not worthy of real leftists” adding that she expected the Duma to block it because Russia is currently working to restore relations with the European Union.
The initiative also caused sharp criticism of Human Rights advocates. The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group and the oldest HR activist in the country, Lyudmila Alekseyeva told the SLON online magazine that the draft was “rubbish” and instead suggested punishing people who ‘come out’ as communists.