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Arkhangelsk gay law becomes national

A small protest outside the children library in Arkhangelsk last year. Anti-homo law could now become national. Photo: Kirill Nepomnyashiy

Russian lawmakers’ homophobia can trigger fines up to 500,000 rubles to those promoting homosexuality among minors.

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What regional Arkhangelsk lawmakers approved in September 2011 is now on full speed to become federal law as the State Duma approved the anti-gay law in its first reading on Friday.

“We live in Russia, not Sodom and Gomorrah,” United Russia Deputy Dmitry Sablin said before the vote, the Moscow Times reports. 

The aim is to shield Russians aged up to 18 from what the lawmakers view as dangerous ideas on freedoms spread by Western-backed advocates and social media. 

The regional law that one and a half year ago was approved by the regional Arkhangelsk Assembly is entitled “Measures to protect the morals and health of children” and was originally initiated by community organizations and religious movements in Arkhangelsk.

The law bans all activities aimed at promoting homosexuality in public areas in Arkhangelsk. When now becoming federal, the law stipulates fines of about 4,000 rubles (€98) to 500,000 rubles (€12,322) to individuals, government officials, and organizations that engage in promoting homosexuality among minors.

Last year, the European Parliament condemned the Arkhangelsk gay law. With the reading in the State Duma now on Friday, domestic and international protests are once again triggered.

“The draft law contributes to an atmosphere that makes violence against LGBT protesters seem acceptable,” said Anna Kirey, a researcher with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) program at Human Rights Watch

“If adopted, the bill would violate the free expression rights of all Russians and discriminate against and further stigmatize Russia’s LGBT community,” she says.