St. Pete lawmakers seek tougher penalties for pedophilia approval

St. Petersburg's legislative assembly meeting (RIA Novosti / Vadim Zhernov)
The legislative assembly of St. Petersburg has addressed Russia’s parliament with a request to introduce stronger punishment for “public approval of pedophilia”.

The legislature approved a special address on the subject by Vitaly Milonov – the author of a recently approved local bill banning the propaganda of homosexuality, transgender and pedophilia.

The document calls on Lower House deputies to introduce amendments to the country’s Criminal Code totoughen the punishment for any public statements approving sexual relations with persons under 18 years of age. The current age of consent in Russia is 16 if the other partner is over 18, and there is no criminal prosecution for “public approval” of any sexual activity.

Milonov has told the press that approval of pedophilia is very widespread in Russia, especially on the internet. There are groups and communities seeking a lowering of the age of consent, sometimes even to 12. The deputy said that the new amendments would help cut the number of crimes against children.

Earlier this year, Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg approved and signed into force a law banning the propaganda of homosexuality, transgender and pedophilia, and introducing administrative fines for such activities. Shortly after the law was signed into force, a group of parliamentarians from Siberia suggested bringing in a similar law nationwide.

Two people already face charges in St. Petersburg for displaying a poster reading “being gay is normal” in a street near a kindergarten, but the court session over their case has been postponed several times.

Russian and foreign gay rights communities have subjected the St. Petersburg law to severe criticism, with one activist suing the St. Petersburg MP who defended the bill, over damage to his honor and dignity.