St Petersburg passes anti-gay law despite outrage

Last Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 12:04

Saint Petersburg: The local parliament in
Russia`s second city of Saint Petersburg on Thursday passed a
controversial law banning "homosexual propaganda", in defiance
of protests by gay rights groups.

The law, passed in a third and final reading with 29
lawmakers in favour and five against, makes it illegal to
promote homosexuality and paedophilia among minors aged under
18.

But rights groups have said the law is dangerous as it
will be left up to the whim of the authorities to decide what
constitutes propaganda, meaning gays could risk fines for
demonstrations or showing intimate behaviour in public.

"This law is shameful for the Saint Petersburg
parliament," said Olga Galkina of the Yabloko (Apple) liberal
party, whose deputies with one exception voted against the
law.

"How will citizens protect their rights? The authorities
will hardly be competent to determine whether this is
propaganda or lifestyle," she said.

The US State Department had said earlier this month it was
deeply concerned the bill would restrict freedom of assembly
for gays. The Russian foreign ministry then accused Washington
of interfering in the Russian legal process.

Gay campaigners said that while the bill is nominally
aimed at protecting minors, its vague wording could be
effectively used to suppress any rights protests that could be
seen by children.

They have also been angered by the fact the law appears to
equate homosexuality with paedophilia.

But the law was strongly supported by Saint Petersburg`s
governor Georgy Poltavchenko and its authors have also vowed
to bring a similar initiative to the federal State Duma
parliament for adoption nationwide.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 12:04

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