Russia poised to pass sweeping anti-gay law

The Russian Parliament has passed the first reading of a bill banning “propaganda of homosexualism”

Published January 25, 2013 5:16PM (EST)

                                    (Flickr Creative Commons)
(Flickr Creative Commons)

Russia's lower house of Parliament, the Duma, has overwhelmingly backed a bill that would ban “homosexual propaganda.”

Approved by a vote of 388-1-1, the law -- pushed by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church -- would make public events and sharing "propaganda" about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with minors punishable by fines of up to $16,000.

The legislative definition of propaganda is exceedingly broad, and could mean anything from television shows with gay characters to two women kissing on a street corner. Also on the list? Madonna and Lady Gaga. As reported by Reuters:

Anti-gay propaganda laws are already in place in Arkhangelsk, Novosibirsk and St Petersburg, Putin's home city, where it was used unsuccessfully to sue American singer Madonna for $10 million for promoting gay love during a concert last year.

Although a court rejected that case, a local politician from Putin's ruling Untied Russia party has said he is taking similar action against another singer, Lady Gaga, who is also a defender of lesbian and gay rights.

"Such widespread propaganda of homosexuality negatively affects the formation of a child's personality, blurs its ideas of the family as the union of a man and woman, and in fact creates grounds for limiting the freedom of choice of sexual preferences when it grows up," the law's backers said in a written defense of the legislation.

After three readings by Parliament, the bill will likely be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

Over the weekend, LGBT groups protested the proposed legislation in both Voronezh and Moscow. What began as a peaceful "Kiss-In" ended in violence as anti-gay demonstrators attacked the protesters:

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Gay Gay Rights Lgbt Russia Video Vladimir Putin