News / Europe

    Russian Parliament Committee Rejects Law Punishing LGBTs

    Russian Parliament Rejects Law Punishing LGBTsi
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    Daniel Schearf
    January 18, 2016 7:45 PM
    Russia’s parliament has rejected a bill that would have allowed fines or jail time for public displays of affection or sexuality by anyone who is not heterosexual.  As VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow, rights groups welcomed the rejection, but are calling for repeal of a law against alleged “gay propaganda” that has encouraged discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals.
    Daniel Schearf

    A Russian parliament committee has rejected a bill that would have allowed fines or jail time for public displays of affection or sexuality by anyone who is not heterosexual. 

    Once it leaves the committee, it goes up for a vote by Parliament, which is likely to reject the bill. 

    Rights groups welcomed the move, but also called for the repeal of a 2013 “gay propaganda” law that has encouraged discrimination.  

    The law rejected Monday was proposed by Communist Party members of the legislature.  Had it passed, gay people could have been fined between $50 and $65 for public displays of affection. If that “expression of non-traditional sexual relations” was on “territories or in institutions, providing education, culture or youth services,” they faced jail time of up to 15 days.

    Human Rights Watch decried the bill as homophobic, while “penalizing people for expressing their identity, a crucial part of anyone’s existence.”

    It was a rare win for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people in Russia.

    “We're glad the committee is resolved to reject this homophobic bill,” said Human Rights Watch’s Russia Program Director in Moscow Tanya Lokshina in an e-mailed response.  “However, the parliament has yet to repeal the 'gay propaganda' bill which has done tremendous damage to Russia's LGBT people."

    The 2013 so-called "gay propaganda law" outlaws the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors," a vague description that received much international criticism. 

    Lokshina says it also has led to increased numbers of attacks on the LGBT community in Russia, “The level of hostility, the level of intolerance with regard to LGBT people have increased very severely in the aftermath of that ‘gay propaganda’ law.”

    Sandra, a trans women living in Moscow, tells VOA that since the law was passed, she was beaten in broad daylight and threatened with razors.  Her girlfriend called police, who arrived promptly but were reluctant to detain her attackers.  "There were no charges at all.  I was told that ‘they were fighting with people like you.  You are a shame to us.  Don't disgrace us.”

    The LGBT community has few people to publicly speak for them in government.  Despite the second class treatment, President Vladimir Putin defended the "gay propaganda law," saying it does not ban homosexuality.  The head of Russia’s state media conglomerate Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselyov, said in 2012 the hearts of dead gays should be burned or buried, instead of donated, calling them "unfit to live."  

    Activists say the government uses LGBT people as scapegoats to distract the public from Russia’s real problems by mobilizing so-called Russian traditional values against allegedly foreign ones.

    “Likewise, they are presenting LGBT people as alien to Russia, and to Russia’s traditional values,” says Lokshina.  “And, to a certain extent, this strategy has been very keen to divert public attention from economic woes.”

    Despite the oppressive atmosphere, some LGBT activists refuse to stay silent.  Vladimir Komov, a Teachers’ Union Head, and engineer Dmitry Svetly are a gay couple living in Moscow.  

    “It's become a lot harder to hold public events, and fewer people come to them because they are worried about possible arrests," says Komov.  “On the other hand, it may have played a positive role, given a push.” 

    He continues, “It's forced a lot of people in LGBT community to get out and do something.  It's created a type of name for the LGBT community in Russia because it's activated a fight and initiative from the community.”

    "We're openly gay,” says Komov.  "We're not hiding in fear,” says Svetly.  "It's our defense mechanism,” adds Komov.  "For us, being open is a weapon,” concludes Svetly.

    Mark Grinberg (pseudonym) contributed to this report.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: classic russian from: already nearby
    January 20, 2016 7:00 AM
    John from: UK It's you who "can't understand real world".

    Who has bombed residential areas of Dresden, Leipzig, and of other German cities? What, there were no military targets? Who has used nuclear weapons against the civilian population of Japan? What, there were no military targets? Who has used chemicals and napalm against vietnamese civilians? What, there were no military targets? Who has used uranium ammunition in Iraq and Yugoslavia? Your fingers were very itchy to try it? We have different "real world". And our one is no worse then yours.
    In Response

    by: John from: UK
    January 20, 2016 7:58 AM
    Yes I accept my country did that you count. But we haven't bombed for genocide (as made by russians in Syria, Crimea..) and expand our land. UK use army power for peace, prevent cruel fascist leader (as Hitler in Dresden, Leipzig...), stop killer who kills his own people (as stalin..). And please go on your all alone world even never leave there.

    by: Vlad
    January 18, 2016 11:09 PM
    Marcus, I hardly think that someone from a murderous, genocidal nation built on continuous rape, pillage and genocide, has any damn right to judge anyone. Get your own house in order before you start spitting vitriol on others. Then again, ignorance and stupidly are the hallmark of your nation.
    In Response

    by: Paccolini
    January 20, 2016 8:12 AM
    baba Voenga: Are you kidding? If russia really has the power to blow up the entire world and itself they tried at least one time or maybe one many times. They have just too old weapon which remained from World War II and expired nuclear weapons. If russia has power why didn't they do any military action against to Turkey which was shot down russian warplane in Syria border. Because russia is nothing just communist and daydreamer still todays world.
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 20, 2016 7:50 AM
    baba, you are wrong. There are many ways nuclear weapons can bring an end to life on earth. Here's just one example. Were Israel to launch a nuclear attack of Mideast oil fields, they'd start fire storms the likes of which have not been seen on earth for billions of years and they would burn for tens of thousands of years.

    There would be no way to extinguish them. It would be only a matter of a few decades before the earth was so covered in smoke that we'd have an ice age over the entire surface. And it wouldn't take that many of them. A few dozen at most. Want another? Pakistan could target India's nuclear power plants.

    Do you know how much radioactive material would be sent into the stratosphere from each reactor core to rain down on the entire earth for decades? By comparison Chernobyl and Fukushima would be seen as minor surface events. And then there are cobalt bombs.
    In Response

    by: baba Voenga from: underground
    January 20, 2016 4:52 AM
    Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA lies constantly and/or sagely says stupid things, insinuations, mixing a lie, the truth, his own incompetence and imagination, wishful thinking. Then he makes russophobic conclusions of this mixture of lies, truth, withholding facts, Breda gray Mare and own silly assessment of the situation. Russia really has the power to blow up the entire world and itself with it. So does the US, maybe China. But France, Britain, possibly India and Pakistan, and maybe Israel can only to break wind and frighten their potential competitors or to make dirty their own territory and surroundings.
    Now attention: there is a question! Which of these countries have practical experience of using WMD against civilians? There is a prompt: the only one. Exclusive nation, isn't it?
    Now you could make a conclusions, even russophobic.
    In Response

    by: John from: UK
    January 20, 2016 2:21 AM
    Marcus its a classic Russian they can't understand real world. Hey vlad I know your questions answers of course. In most short way killed Estonians, Hungarians, Turks, Azerbaijanis, Poles (Katyn massacre), Muslims even Russian kins...For instance

    1939 Winter War (was slaughtered Fins)
    1994 I. Chechen War (was slaughtered Chechens)
    1996 II. Chechen War (was slaughtered Chechens)
    2014 Annexation of Crimea (was slaughtered Ukranian)
    2015 Syria-? It will be CONTİNUE...Right?

    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 19, 2016 12:20 PM
    Vlad, Russia has the power to blow up the entire world and itself with it. So does the US, France, Britain, China, possibly India and Pakistan, and maybe Israel. That's about all we have in common.

    In every other respect, in the world as we know it today, as it has been for at least the last 70 years, and as it is likely to be for the foreseeable future, there is the United States of America and then there is everything else. You can be as bitter about it as you like but it doesn't change the facts. You have a lot of company. Even people who pretend to be our allies are very angry about it. They can't do anything about it either. They hang on our every word while we are hardly aware they even exist. BTW, Russia is bigger than Pluto...and probably colder too.
    In Response

    by: Vlad
    January 19, 2016 8:44 AM
    John, if by 'advanced nation' you mean a country which has based it's existence on theft and murder, then you are certainly correct. How many countries has the UK invaded? How many wars has it started? How many people's has it subjugated, enslaved and murdered? Actually, I wouldn't expect you to know the answers to any of these questions. You've already demonstrated your ignorance. Enjoy your little island of thieving bankers and... oh wait, you chaps have nothing else... obesity problems excluded.
    In Response

    by: John from: UK
    January 19, 2016 6:19 AM
    Absolutely Marcus Aurelius is deeply right. russia will never join and prosper in the modern world . But russia will always reject integration in 21st century norms of advanced nations and largely alienated and isolated itself from. Yes sure, that russia is a repugnant society that has nothing but contempt for others. It is no super power, it's a super flop. hahaha

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 18, 2016 4:49 PM
    Russia is a socially backward place that has a long history of hatred for anyone who does not conform to "Russian norms." This is true for many kinds of people. Our science now understands that people have no control over their sexual preferences and can neither persuade heterosexuals to become homosexuals nor can homosexuals be "cured" to become heterosexuals. This is no longer an opinion, it is now an established scientific fact.

    Russia deserves what is happening to it now for many reasons beyond its government's crimes in Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere. Russia was given a chance to join and prosper in the modern world and even given financial help when it was in trouble in the late 1990s. But it has rejected that integration in 21st century norms of advanced nations and will now have to fend for itself in a world it has largely alienated and isolated itself from. It is a repugnant society that has nothing but contempt for others. It is no super power, it's a super flop. It may be generations before it gets another chance to show it is willing to evolve.
    In Response

    by: Vlad
    January 19, 2016 11:04 PM
    Somehow I'm not surprised, the delusion of american exceptionalism continues.

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