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Russia Proposes Expanding LGBTQ+ 'Propaganda' Ban

Pride event in St. Petersburg
A Pride event in St. Petersburg

The country currently bans the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors; legislators want to extend that to include adults.

Russian legislators are considering an expansion of the nation's so-called gay propaganda law, which bans "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors, to include such "promotion" to adults.

"We propose to generally extend the ban on such propaganda regardless of the age of the audience (offline, in the media, on the internet, social networks and online cinemas)," the head of the State Duma's information committee, Alexander Khinshtein, said Monday on his Telegram social media channel, according to Reuters. The Duma is one of the houses of Russia's national legislative body.

The current law, adopted in 2013, bans dissemination of information about LGBTQ+ identities and issues in venues accessible to minors. The law particularly targets anything that portrays same-sex relationships as equal to different-sex ones. Violators of the law can be fined, and the statute has been used to ban Pride events and punish LGBTQ+ activists. It has also contributed to a generally anti-LGBTQ+ atmosphere and been blamed for hate crimes.

Russia's homophobia and transphobia have drawn widespread international condemnation. But legislators said they felt free to expand the "propaganda" law now that the nation has left the Council of Europe, a human rights body. Russia left the group after its invasion of Ukraine this year.

Russia adopted a new constitution in 2020 that allowed for longer presidential terms --to the benefit of President Vladimir Putin -- and defined marriage as solely a male-female union. Putin "has aligned himself closely with the Orthodox Church -- which rejects same-sex relationships -- and has made its social conservatism part of a narrative of Russian political and cultural revival that is now also being used to help justify the invasion of Ukraine," Reuters notes. And Parliamentary Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has said LGBTQ+ acceptance constitutes "alien values."

"Demands to legalize same-sex marriages in Russia are a thing of the past," he said last week, according to the news service. "Attempts to impose alien values on our society have failed."

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