Nikolai Alexeyev, former chief organizer of Moscow Pride and the leading gay activist in Russia, warned that a bill progressing in the St. Petersburg legislature to outlaw the "propaganda of homosexuality" to minors could result in a wider clampdown on gay rights protests.
The Associated Press reports that the bill proposed by United Russia, the party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, passed the first of three required readings Wednesday on a 27 to 1 vote. It would impose a fine of up to $1,600 for "public actions aimed at propaganda of pederasty, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors."
Alexeyev, the founder of the GayRussia website and former chief organizer of Moscow Pride, said the bill could become a reason to deny any public actions by the LGBT community.
"It theoretically allows the ban of anything anywhere where kids could be present," he told the AP.
In an earlier post to UK Gay News, Alexeyev said the pandered to antigay voters ahead of the parliamentary elections in December.
"This is nothing more than cheap populism to please family rights defenders, nationalists and church addicts," he wrote. "Politicians in Russia cannot imitate their US counterparts by reaffirming that marriage is between a man and a woman - as our Constitutional Court has already done it, so they just found something that people will easily understand and buy before the elections."
Last month Alexeyev announced his resignation from Moscow Pride, saying that he was fed up. Authorities in the city have continued to ban the event, which is vehemently opposed by the influential Orthodox Church, although the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Moscow Pride last year.
Activists recently announced they would attempt to hold the 2012 Moscow Pride on May 27, the 19th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia.