Russian lawmakers approve anti-gay bill
A bill that stigmatizes gay people and bans giving children any information about homosexuality won overwhelming approval Tuesday in Russia’s lower house of parliament.
Hours before the State Duma passed the Kremlin-backed law in a 436-0 vote with one abstention, more than two dozen protesters were attacked by hundreds of anti-gay activists and then detained by police.
The bill banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” still needs to be passed by the appointed upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, but neither step is in doubt.
The measure is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values instead of Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against Putin’s rule.
The only parliament member to abstain Tuesday was Ilya Ponomaryov, who has supported anti-Putin demonstrators despite belonging to a pro-Kremlin party.
A widespread hostility to homosexuality is shared by much of Russia’s political and religious elite.
Lawmakers have accused gays of decreasing Russia’s already low birth rates and said they should be barred from government jobs, undergo forced medical treatment or be exiled.
The State Duma passed another bill Tuesday that makes offending religious feelings a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.
The legislation, which passed 308-2, was introduced last year after three members of the Pussy Riot punk group were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for an impromptu anti-Putin demonstration inside Moscow’s main cathedral and given two-year sentences.
Both bills drew condemnation from Amnesty International.