Russian MPs adopted amendments on Thursday 24 November which considerably broaden the scope of a law prohibiting the “propaganda” LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans…). This vote comes in full conservative hardening of the Kremlin accompanying its military offensive in Ukraine.
This new law – which is an expanded version of a much criticized 2013 text banning “propaganda” LGBT+ with minors – now defends “promoting non-traditional sexual relationships” to all audiences, in the media, on the Internet, in books and in films. This broad scope, as well as the broad interpretation permitted by the vague concept of ” promotion “ raise fears of increased repression against LGBT+ communities in Russia, who already face strong discrimination.
“Promoting non-traditional sexual relations is prohibited (…). A ban on the promotion of pedophilia and gender change has also been introduced”said in a statement the speaker of the Lower House of Parliament (Duma), Vyacheslav Volodin. “The fines amount to 10 million rubles” (about 160,000 euros) for offenders, he added. For the text to become law, it must still be validated by the Upper House of Parliament, the Council of the Federation, and signed by the President, Vladimir Putin, which constitutes simple formalities.
“We just exist”
In the eyes of Dilia Gafourova, head of the NGO defending the rights of LGBT+ people Sfera, “the law is discriminatory by its nature, it is quite obvious”. She judges “alarming” the Kremlin’s claims that “LGBT+ people are a Western invention, the result of outside interference”believing that it feeds their “stigma” in the society.
Passage of new law comes after years of crackdown on LGBT+ communities, with Kremlin portraying itself as defender of values “traditional” facing a West presented as decadent. In the context of the conflict in Ukraine, this law is also portrayed as a means of ” defend “ Russia against an onslaught of Western countries on the level of values. This law “will protect our children and the future of this country from the darkness spread by the United States and European countries. We have our own traditions and values”said Thursday, Mr. Volodin.
Activist Dilia Gafourova calls on the Russian authorities not to use the LGBT+ community as a “instrument of ideological confrontation”. “We just exist, and there is nothing bad about us and nothing that needs to be glossed over”she points out. “We cannot be deprived of our voice. »
Last month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, ruled “deeply” concerning the toughening of the law on LGBT + in Russia, after a vote of the Duma on the text in first reading. LGBT-Set, the main Russian NGO for the defense of sexual minorities, for its part denounced on October 18 in this law a “new attempt to discriminate and attack the dignity of the LGBT community”.