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Tolerance, not gay bans

by at 17/11/2011 21:05

The move this week by the United Russia-dominated St. Petersburg City Assembly to introduce fines for promoting gay rights has provoked a scandal, as the proposed legislation would be a step back toward Soviet-era laws that banned homosexuality.

The bill, if passed, would mean that individuals and organizations engaged in “public activities to promote sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and trans-sexuality” could be fined – 3,000-5,000 rubles for individuals and up to 50,000 rubles for organizations.

The bill holds that events such as gay pride and equality marches could influence children, and it equates promoting gay rights with promoting pedophilia – a clear attempt to smear LGBT people at the same time as a major crackdown against pedophiles is under way in Russia.

Of course, there is no evidence at all that gays and lesbians are more likely to be pedophiles than any other group in society, but the slur tends to get repeated ad nauseum anyway.

If passed, the bill would push the LGBT community back underground, and mean that more young people go back into the closet rather than reveal their sexuality to family, friends and colleagues.

Anti-gay laws could also lead to even less sensible education for young people on sexual health and gender issues in schools, where ignorance already means that the country has a high incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and abortions among teenagers.

The dangers associated with such bills, particularly if they are promoted on a national level, are that Russia risks further looking for more scapegoats and minorities to discriminate against.

Sadly, it’s probably no coincidence that this legislation is cropping up precisely at this time. By pushing the issue, United Russia looks like it is trying to divert attention away from concerns about a new wave of the crisis and budget cuts after next year’s presidential election.

In reality, this attempt to whip up a hate campaign seems more like a desperate ploy to revive the party’s rather lackluster State Duma election campaign.

Read other articles of the print issue "The Moscow News #89"
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