By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com October 20 2013 11:44 AM ET
A draconian bill introduced in Russia's parliament has been quietly withdrawn, one of the few positive changes this week in a country that's in the midst of a crackdown on LGBT people. According to Buzzfeed's Miriam Elder, a spokesperson for Alexei Zhuravlyov, the extremist MP who introduced a bill that would remove children of gay parents from their homes, said the bill was withdrawn but would be submitted again after changes.As reported previously by Michelle Garcia in The Advocate, Alexi Zhuravlyov's bill would classify homosexuality similarly to alcoholism, abuse, and violence, making it a reason to remove a child from a parent's custody.
LGBT activist first noticed the change in the bill's status on the website for Russia's parliament, State Duma. Sofia Cherepanova, Zhuravlyov’s spokesperson, told the state-run news agency RIA-Novosti that the bill will be reintroduced: “It’s being recalled for revision — certain legal formulations will be clarified, and then after some points are removed, it will be brought to the State Duma again. We hope to pass the bill.”
The bill came under almost uniform international criticism since it was introduced but it retained the support of many far right leaders including Russian president Vladmir Putin, an outspoken supporter of recent legislation banning any "promotion" of homosexuality.
Elder says the decision to withdraw the bill comes "one month after it cleared a bureaucratic hurdle that put it on the agenda to be considered as soon as February 2014. That is the month that Russia is set to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi — something that has already pointed global attention to the country’s abysmal record on LGBT rights."
The withdrawal of the bill has LGBT activists in Russia and abroad cautiously optimistic, but most assume it's a move calculated to deflect some of the attention the country is getting during the lead up to the Olympics. After the games are over, many expect international attention will turn away and Russia's extremists will continue their campaign against LGBT parents.