Russian anti-gay bill passes, protesters detained
Moscow: A bill that stigmatises Russia`s gay community and bans the distribution of information about homosexuality to children was overwhelmingly approved by the lower house of Parliament on Tuesday.
More than two dozen protesters were attacked by anti-gay activists and then detained by police, hours before the State Duma approved the Kremlin-backed legislation in a 436-0 vote.
The bill banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" still needs to be passed by the appointed upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, but neither step is in doubt.
The measure is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values as opposed to Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against Putin`s rule.
The only Parliament member to abstain today was Ilya Ponomaryov, who has supported the protest movement to the aggravation of the leadership of his pro-Kremlin party.
Before the vote, gay rights activists attempted to hold a "kissing rally" outside the State Duma, located across the street from Red Square in central Moscow, but they were attacked by hundreds of Orthodox Christian activists and members of pro-Kremlin youth groups. The mostly burly young men with closely cropped hair pelted them with eggs while shouting obscenities and homophobic slurs.
Riot police moved in, detaining more than two dozen protesters, almost all of them gay rights activists. Some who were not detained were beaten by masked men on a central street about a mile away.
The legislation will impose hefty fines for providing information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community to minors or holding gay pride rallies.
Breaching the law will carry a fine of up to USD 156 for an individual and up to USD 31,000 for media organisations.
After the bill was given preliminary approval in January, lawmakers changed the wording of "homosexual propaganda" to "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," which backers of the bill defined as "relations not conducive to procreation."
Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains high.
Russia also is considering banning citizens of countries that allow same-sex marriage from adopting Russian children.
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