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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Moscow now proposing anti-gay law

Image of St. Petersberg gay demo, broken up by police and attacked by fascists, source GayRussia
By Paul Canning

After two regions and then St. Petersberg proposed anti-gay laws now it is Moscow's turn.

Gazeta reports that the City authorities will adopt the St Petersberg ban on so-called 'gay propoganda'.
"Yes, we plan to adoption of this law in Moscow and now [are] just working on its development,” chairman of the Moscow City Council Committee on Health Care and Public Health, Lyudmila Stebenkova told the newspaper, adding that the committee “commends the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg”.
St. Petersburg's authority has already passed the bill through its first reading, near unanimously. The bill is proposed by Vladimir Putin's United Russia party and, analysts say, will help shore up support for the party in a city where its poll numbers have been falling, as the ruling party's have all over Russia.

The bill would generate fines for “public actions, aimed at propagandizing sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, [and] transgenderness among minors.” It deliberately conflates homosexuality and paedophilia. The bill bans any LGBT public event, such as the existing film festival, but activists have questioned if it would ban even wearing a rainbow pin or any news reporting quoting openly gay people - or a performance of a Tchaikovsky symphony.

Vitaly Milonov, the bill proposer, says that St. Petersberg is drowning under “a wave popularizing sexual perversion.”

The Russian backlash on an increasingly visible LGBT movement - 52% of Russians are aware of the repeated attempts to stage a Pride march in Moscow - began in the region of Ryazan, south of Moscow, and earlier this year spread to the far-North region of Arkhangelsk. Activists now believe a federal law will follow.

In an angry opinion piece for UK Gay News, the former organiser of Moscow Pride and the most well-known Russian gay activist, Nikolai Alekseev, who travelled to Arkhangelsk 17 November to publicly challenge the anti-gay propaganda law, calls such laws "cheap populism" and castigates his fellow gay Russians for being 'asleep at the wheel':
In this country, you are taken seriously only if you constantly show your teeth.  If you are too kind, people will not respect you simply because they will not be impressed by you.  The basis is fear and not diplomacy.
As Russian politicians like to tell us: “Go to the Gay Parade in Berlin, but not on our sacred land”.  If you are Russian and gay, lesbian, bi or trans, you can only enjoy your human rights abroad.

And this is the problem.

Our Russian LGBT people ... Their lack of motivation to defend their rights is not an act of cowardice; it is an absence of long term vision.  As some start to wake up today in St. Petersburg to fight this law which will soon directly affect them, others will probably wake up when Russia re-criminalises homosexuality. Then, it will be too late.
Alekseev points to:
The European Court of Human Rights’ decision which found Russia guilty for banning Moscow Prides.  Despite the decision which is obligatory, nothing changed.  Moscow keeps banning the Pride.  The Council of Europe stays silent.
And argues for what Russia might listen to from overseas:
You cannot be diplomatic with those who do not even respect their own words.  Russia signed international conventions that no one forced her to accept.  Either the country pulls out from these institutions, or it must respect their rules.
Think what would have happen in 1962 if JFK sent a letter of protest to Khrushchev instead of organising the blockade of Cuba.  Do not forget history?
Alekseev proposed that the EU "hit the Russian politicians where it will be painful for them" and ban homophobic politicians "from spending their holidays in Nice, Cyprus or Spain" and that Russia’s voting rights at the Council of Europe be suspended.
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