News / Europe

Russia Passes Anti-Gay Law, Activists Detained

Anti-gay rights activists stand on a rainbow flag during a protest by gay rights activists who oppose a proposed new law termed by the State Duma as
Anti-gay rights activists stand on a rainbow flag during a protest by gay rights activists who oppose a proposed new law termed by the State Duma as "against advocating the rejection of traditional family values," Moscow, June 11, 2013.
Reuters
Russia's lower house passed a law on Tuesday banning gay “propaganda,"
a measure that human rights groups say has already fuelled attacks on homosexuals as President Vladimir Putin pursues an increasingly conservative social agenda.
 
As parliament debated the bill, gay activists who had taken part in a “kissing protest'' outside parliament to demonstrate against the law were harassed and pelted with eggs by anti-gay protesters, then about 20 of them were arrested.
 
The law bans the spreading of “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations'' to minors and sets heavy fines for violations. It passed with 436 votes in the 450-seat lower house, the Duma. One deputy abstained and no one voted against.
 
“Traditional sexual relations are relations between a man and a woman, which ... are a condition for the preservation and development of the multi-ethnic Russian people,'' lawmaker Yelena Mizulina told the chamber.
 
“It is precisely these relations that need special protection by the state,'' she said.
 
Critics say the bill - a nationwide version of laws already in place in several cities including Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg - would in effect ban all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.
 
“There is already enough pressure and violence against gays, and with this law it will only continue and probably get worse,'' said Viktoria Malyasova, 18, standing outside the Duma.
 
“I may not be gay but I came to stand up for my rights and the rights of other people to love whom they want,'' she said.
 
Homophobic violence
 
There are no official figures on anti-gay crime in Russia, but in an online poll last year, 15 percent of about 900 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender respondents said they had been physically attacked at least once in the previous 10 months.
 
Putin, who has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral authority and harnessed its influence as a source of political support, has championed socially conservative values since starting a new, six-year term in May 2012.
 
The gay rights protesters outside the Duma on Tuesday were far outnumbered by around 200 anti-gay activists who surrounded them, chanting “Russia is not Sodom'', singing Orthodox Christian prayers, crossing themselves and throwing rotten eggs.
 
After scuffles in which one man was knocked to the ground and kicked by the anti-gay activists, police began detaining the gay protesters and bundling them into waiting busses. Moscow police said about 20 people were detained.
 
Investigators say homophobia was the motive for the brutal murders of two men in the past month, one in eastern Russia and one in the southern city of Volgograd.
 
The 60-year-old president denies that there is discrimination against gays, but has criticized them for failing to increase Russia's population, which has declined sharply since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
 
The Duma passed another law on Tuesday that made the insulting of religious feelings a crime punishable by up to three years in prison - a measure proposed after last year's Pussy Riot protest at a Moscow cathedral.
 
Two members of the feminist performance group are serving two-year jail sentences for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred'' after a trial that drew international criticism.
 
Both bills still need the approval of the upper house, and Putin's signature.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs