Russia approves a law that prohibits any declaration in support of the LGTBIQ collective | International
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The Kremlin’s war against everything it labels as “Western culture” has taken its repression of universal rights among its own population to a new level. The Russian State Duma, the lower house, has approved a new version of its “law against LGTBIQ propaganda”. Once it comes into force, not only will any statement in favor of “relationships or sexual preferences” of this group in front of minors be prohibited, which is already illegal, but it will also be banned among adults; and censorship will even reach all cultural works, from movies to books. For the legislators and the Russian president himself, Vladimir Putin, it is about defending “the borders” against the “satanism” of the West.
The Russian Parliament has approved the bill in the first of the three readings that the document must carry out. To delve into what sociologists call a “wedge problem”, a debate that divides society and allows attention to be distracted from other issues, such as wars, legislators have included in the reform package a tightening of punishments for crimes of pedophilia, which is tried to be related to the LGTBIQ collective.
All the parties that make up the parliamentary arc have participated in the drafting of the law. “We have made a decision solely in the interest of our citizens, in the interest of our country,” House Speaker Viacheslav Volodin said during the session. The statement released by the Duma maintains that, “according to surveys, 16% of Europeans aged 14 to 29 identify themselves as LGTBIQ.” “We must do everything possible to protect our children and those who want to live a normal life. Everything else is sin, sodomy, darkness, and our country is fighting against this,” Volodin said. The leader of the Duma added that he does not rule out that in a second reading “there are amendments that toughen” the content of the norm.
The promoter of the law, the head of the committee for information policy, Alexander Jinshtein, went further on his Telegram channel. “Our initiative is not an act of censorship, we do not prohibit the mention of LGTBIQ people as a phenomenon; we precisely prohibit propaganda”, he affirmed before assuring that this is a way of “defending” the Russian “border” and “protecting the birth rate” of a country that has mobilized hundreds of thousands of men for war.
“The special military operation takes place not only on the battlefields, but also in the minds of people, in their souls (…). This once again demonstrates our clash of civilizations with the West, where an awareness of the superiority of non-traditional and transgender sexual orientation as an individualizing factor is forming,” Jinshtein said.
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The Duma titled its statement Approval of the bill for the protection of traditional values. The LGTBIQ community has always been an obsession for the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin could not help but refer to her during his address to the nation on the annexation of Ukraine’s territories on September 30. “Do we want to have here, in our country, instead of a father and a mother, a father number one, father number two and father number three? Are they completely crazy over there?”, he addressed his citizens. And he asked rhetorically: “Do we really want perversions that lead to the degradation and extinction of children to be imposed in our schools? That they supposedly inculcate other genders, in addition to women and men, and offer them the change of sex?
For Putin, respecting the freedom of this minority supposes “a suppression of freedom that acquires the characteristics of an inverse religion, absolute Satanism.” In contrast, the president swore to defend “traditional faith and values” against the United States and Europe, whose battlefield he now considers Ukraine. For the Russian leader, the former Soviet republic can only exist under the umbrella of Moscow. “Frankly, the only real and serious guarantor of the state, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine can only be Russia, which created today’s Ukraine.”
New wave of restrictions
From the LGBT Network organization, which offers legal support to the people of the group, they consider that the Russian norm represents “humiliation and discrimination”. “What is happening is the total abolition of the LGTB +”, a representative of the NGO told the Reuters agency. “They want to prohibit us from talking about ourselves, from showing our feelings to our partners, but also to erase any mention of it in books, movies or media. Lawmakers suggest that the adult population is not in a position to choose what to say, watch or read,” he added.
The new law bans advertising showing “non-traditional sexual relationships or preferences,” and films featuring them will not be allowed to be shown. Movies like Rocketman (based on the life of singer Elton John) have taken a major snip before hitting Russian cinemas, and a year ago, a hugely popular food chain apologized for “hurting” citizens by showing a lesbian couple in an ad. The two women were forced to flee the country due to the campaign of harassment unleashed against them.
On the other hand, content favorable to the LGTBIQ community can only be accessed on payment platforms when the user’s age is verified by means of a special code; and news aggregators with more than a million users, and social networks with more than half a million, will have to remove all posts about it.
The ban has been backed by media regulator Roskomnadzor, which has already removed or blocked more than 7,200 websites. The video app Tik Tok has been fined three million rubles for promoting LGTBI-themed videos. The norm grants him new instruments to persecute what the authorities describe as “LGTBIQ propaganda”. Thus, the regulator has asked publishers to withdraw from sale any publication that contains it. Regarding classic works, Jinshtein assured that books like Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, “cannot be propaganda” because the ban pursues “the dissemination of information aimed at the formation of non-traditional sexual attitudes”. However, the booksellers warn that the final decision will depend on how a court judges this arbitrariness.
For making statements about the group in front of adults, the law contemplates fines of up to 400,000 rubles (almost 6,500 euros at current exchange rates), 800,000 in the case of officials (about 12,800 euros); for companies, the penalty can amount to up to five million rubles and provides for the suspension of the activity of the company that displayed these messages for 90 days. The fines will be higher if there are minors in front, and foreigners will be expelled from the country in all cases.
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