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Violence Breaks Out As Russia’s State Duma Bans LGBT Advocacy

Jim Burroway

June 11th, 2013

Police break up a fight between LGBT activist and anti-gay protester. (Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

Russia’s State Duma gave its unanimous approval today to a federal law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. The law prohibits advocating the moral equivalency of gay relationships to straight ones, as well as the distributing of material advocating for gay rights. The Duma vote was 434-0, with one abstention. Similar bans are already in place in several Russian regions and the city of St. Petersburg. The bill now goes on to the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of Parliament, where passage is expected. As RIA Novosti reported:

There are a total of 450 deputies in the State Duma, and a majority of 226 was needed for the bill to pass.

If the bill is signed into law by Putin, the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships” will be punishable by fines from 4,000 ($120) to 5,000 rubles ($160) for individuals, from 40,000 ($1,200) to 50,000 ($1,500) for officials, and from 800,000 ($25,000) to 1 million rubles ($31,000) for organizations.

There will also be tougher fines for promoting such relationships in the media or on the Internet: from 50,000 rubles to 1 million rubles, or even 90 days of arrest for people involved in organizations found guilty of the offense.

Violent clashes broke out between LGBT advocates and Orthodox anti-gay protesters outside the State Duma as the body began considering the bill:

A RIA Novosti reporter at the scene witnessed how the demonstration started peacefully, with a police cordon separating anti-bill LGBT activists from those backing the bill.

When some of the gay couples protesting against the bill to restrict “the promotion of same-sex relationships” started kissing, pro-bill activists responded by hurling eggs and bundles of nettles.

Some anti-bill protesters chanted “Moscow is not Baghdad” (seemingly more of a reference to a generic anti-gay, conservative, religious society, than a specific comment on today’s Iraq) while pro-bill demonstrators shouted: “Moscow is not Sodom.”

…Masha Gessen, a prominent Moscow-based journalist and outspoken defender of gay rights, was one of those taken to a police station. She tweeted that she was detained after a pro-Orthodox Church activist attacked her “physically” but was not detained by riot police.

Reuters reports:

The gay protesters were far outnumbered by around 200 anti-gay activists who surrounded them, chanting “Russia is not Sodom”, singing Orthodox Christian prayers and crossing themselves. They threw rotten eggs at the gay protesters.

After scuffles in which one man was knocked to the ground and kicked by the anti-gay activists, police began detaining the gay protesters and bundling them into waiting buses.

The State Duma will also consider today another bill which would make “insulting religious believers’ feelings” a criminal offense, punishable with finds of up to $15,000, 200 hours of compulsory labor, or up to three years’ imprisonment.

In February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the proposed ban would not infringe on the human rights of LGBT people in Russia:

We’re not discriminating against anyone, we just don’t want reverse discrimination, when one group of citizens gets the right to aggressively impose their values, unsupported by most of the population, especially on children,” Lavrov said in Moscow.

In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated those sentiments and blamed gay people, in part, for Russia’s declining population.

Comments

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Timothy Kincaid
June 11th, 2013 | LINK

When I was young I used to hear, “Thank God we have religious freedom here, not like the Soviet Union!”

I wonder how this resonates with those who used to make that statement.

Lord_Byron
June 11th, 2013 | LINK

Well, this means that more people will be leaving Russia.

I know that I shouldn’t hate anyone and I don’t know if this will be blocked, but I just want to say one simple thing. FUCK THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.

Putin and they have started to turn Russia into a theocracy and even if it is cruel and inhuman I want to go back to the old days of the soviet union where they had to fear for their lives. They forget how they were persecuted and now want to persecute others.

As for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov it sounds like he has a conservative talking point of “reverse discrimination” stuck in his head.

Timothy (TRiG)
June 11th, 2013 | LINK

Ah, Section 28, we meet again.

John
June 11th, 2013 | LINK

So much for freedom. Obviously the Russians don’t believe in the right to dissent from popularly held beliefs or in the right to worship (or not) as one sees fit. If they did, the Duma wouldn’t be considering blasphemy (ahem) “hate” speech laws or banning those who believe in gay rights from making their case and punk bands wouldn’t be put on trial for blasphemy either. And the police would be arresting those who through eggs at the protestors ( have they ever heard of assault?) as opposed to those who were merely protesting for their right to speak.

Neil
June 12th, 2013 | LINK

The State Duma will also consider today another bill which would make “insulting religious believers’ feelings” a criminal offense, punishable with finds of up to $15,000, 200 hours of compulsory labor, or up to three years’ imprisonment.

This reminds me of the footage from the DC Pride Parade where an megaphone preacher intones that his God commands him to condemn LGBT people. At one point someone gives his opinion of this God and the preacher complains that he’s blaspheming. This was shortly after his comparison of gays to paedophiles.

This demonstrates the often timorous quality of religious belief. Attacks come from behind ecclesiastical skirts. Criticism cannot be withstood and is condemned as disrespect.

The proposed Russian law is an extreme example of this weakness of faith. If the churches in Russia had confidence in their beliefs they’d be rejecting any threat of incarceration for critics. In a way, by supporting such a law, they’re conceding the point that any disrespect coming their way is likely deserved.

Timothy Kincaid
June 12th, 2013 | LINK

At one point someone gives his opinion of this God and the preacher complains that he’s blaspheming.

Some might counter that to ascribe to the Deity ones most heinous prejudices is the far greater blasphemy.

JohnAGJ
June 12th, 2013 | LINK

So the Russian Orthodox Church has achieved it’s aim of being restored to the power it once held under the czars. Swell. Pity that I’ll never be able to visit Russia like I wanted to someday, I really wanted to see a lot there but not now.

Snowman
June 12th, 2013 | LINK

Hmm, something tells me this will not end up working out well in the long term. As in you’d think the people learned something from the last couple hundred years of their country’s history.

Even the guy who rides to work with me (who is somewhat of a Fundie) recognizes that the gay issue has been used as a distraction from much more severe problems that need to be dealt with.

What’d the Communists call it “…the Opiate Of The Masses?”

Hate to agree with them, but if the shoe fits…

Snowman
June 12th, 2013 | LINK

I can only figure…especially given that Russia has a lot worse problems…that all this anti-gay crap being promoted HAS to be a distraction from something. Hey, it worked for a few years HERE…

CPT_Doom
June 12th, 2013 | LINK

What I don’t understand is why there is no national reaction here to the totalitarian anti-gay shift in Russia. Where are the calls for, at least, gay bars to boycott all Russian products? Where are the protests outside the Russian embassy? Where are the demands that both the American and International Olympic committees denounce these efforts?

What will happen to LGBT athletes at next year’s Olympics? What about pro-LGBT allies? The new law allows for arrest and detention of up to 2 weeks for any foreigner who breaks the law, followed by deportation.

This could and should become a HUGE problem for Russia in the international community.

Darina
June 15th, 2013 | LINK

It keeps getting worse:
http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/769323.html
That should be “single foreigners”; “lonely” is a bad translation from Russian.

And then there is this petition: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/say_NO_to_Russias_plans_to_legalize_the_removal_of_children_from_samesex_parent_families/?fgsMobb&pv=3

I have read the relevant part of what Ms. Mizulina said a certain press conference, and I can’t tell f she meant that all children should be taken away from de facto same-sex families, or “only” adopted children (I’m afraid the Google translation of that part is only a little more absurd than the original). Trying to make sense of it all is an exercise in frustration even for a native speaker (which I’m not).
http://www.pravmir.ru/rozhdenie-rebenka-ne-dolzhno-obrekat-semyu-na-bednost-elena-mizulina-o-faktax-i-mifax-koncepcii-semejnoj-politiki-rf/

Timothy Kincaid
June 15th, 2013 | LINK

Darina, thank you for the additional information.

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