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Russia Begins Targeting LGBTQ+ People, Per Putin's Orders

Vladimir Putin

Lawmakers are rushing to pass bills to further erode LGBTQ+ rights in the already hostile nation.

The prospects for marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ rights in Russia have been severely dimmed as lawmakers there make good on President Vladimir Putin's promised crackdown on the queer and trans communities. An author of legislation proposed this week says her bill will ban same-sex marriage, adoption by transgender people, and recognition of same-sex unions registered abroad.

"The bill ends the practice of marriage between persons of the same sex, including those who changed genders," Sen. Yelena Mizulina, its coauthor, said in a press release, accoring to Interfax. The Moscow Times reports Mizulina also said the bill bans adoption by trans people.

Same-sex unions are not recognized in Russia, but a loophole currently exists in the country's Family Code that has been used in the past to grant official recognition to same-sex unions registered abroad. The legislation proposed Tuesday will close that loophole.

Earlier this month voters approved a series of amendments to the country's constitution, including one defining marriage as only between a man and woman. Another of the amendments resets the start of term limits for Putin, meaning he can serve an additional two terms as president, lasting until 2036. The vote was largely symbolic, as the proposals had already been approved by the Russian legislature.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow had flown a rainbow Pride flag during the election as a sign of solidarity with the Russian LGBTQ+ community. President Trump has forbidden flying rainbow flags on poles outside U.S. embassies or other government buildings without specific authorization. The ban only applies to flagpoles, though, so the embassy suspended the flag from a line strung between two balconies overlooking the street.

Additionally, the Washington Blade reported 40 protesters were arrested during the recent election while demonstrating against the arrest of activist Yulia Tsvetkova. This week's legislation only adds to the concerns of local activists.

"When these amendments come into effect, then in fact the state will only support conservative values and promote them," Max Olenichev, a lawyer with the LGBTQ+ group Coming Out, told NBC News. "LGBT people will be left behind. Our society really looks up to what the government does, so any kinds of public actions promoting homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, many people may perceive as a call for action. And we believe that there will be more hate speech and hate crimes, and that LGBT people will suffer more violence."

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