Tag Archives: Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly

Petersburg Lawmaker Elena Babich: Gays Shouldn’t Be Seen (and Jews Should Keep Quiet, Too)

Confronted last week at a book signing in a downtown Petersburg bookstore by LGBT rights activists, Elena Babich, a deputy in the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly representing the so-called Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and one of the most outspoken advocates of the anti-gay law proposed by Deputy Vitaly Milonov, was frank:

Babich said she had “very many” friends who are gay, but all of them led “covert” lifestyles, and advised that LGBT people should act so as not to be visible to the public. She then compared them to the Jewish community.

“It’s very important not to draw attention to oneself too much,” she said.

“One of the books that I have starts like this: The issue of same-sex love is somewhat like the Jewish problem. When there are too many Jews — in every field of management, on television, in the arts, everywhere — it ends badly for Jews themselves. They [Jews] always make efforts to regulate this aspect.”

Read the full story here.

 

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Vitaly Milonov, Petersburg Lawmaker

Vitaly Milonov

Kommersant Saint Petersburg
November 24, 2011

[…]

According to Vitaly Milonov, [consideration of the bill he introduced into the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly, which would make “promotion of homosexuality” an administrative offense punishable by fines] was postponed “due to legal ambiguity.” “There are certain slippery aspects in the wording of the bill that might hinder its implementation. Basically, these are terminological ambiguities. For example, the concept of ‘lesbianism.’ It could happen that residents of the Greek island of Lesbos who promote their own lifestyle would be subject to fines,” Mr. Milonov explained to Kommersant. In addition, there is no clarity in how the concept of ‘promotion’ [literally, “propaganda” of homosexuality] would be applied, which the legislative assembly’s legal office also pointed out. Vitaly Milonov admitted that his committee is now considering a legal analysis of the text of the bill prepared by the NGO Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms, which “the homosexualists sent” to Mr. Milonov. The multi-page text of the opinion (which Kommersant has obtained a copy of) concludes that the proposed bill is unconstitutional, contradicts a number of international conventions, and “also contains significant shortcomings [from the standpoint] of legal procedure.” Deputy Milonov had to agree with the legal experts and the sexual minorities, saying that now all amendments [to the bill] are being “put in order.”

However, a source in the Legislative Assembly has told Kommersant that deputies are unlikely to consider the bill on fines for gay agitators even at their final session [before the December 4 elections]. “We didn’t expect such a violent reaction in the press. The bill, which is Vitaly Milonov’s pet project, ended up on the agenda through a strange turn of events: United Russia thought that it might generate [positive] ‘campaign buzz’, winning over the conservative part of society. But now we see the opposite effect: the entire country has learned the names of the ‘main homophobes in Russia’ — Milonov and Babich. (LDPR deputy Elena Babich is an active supporter of punishments for gay propagandists.)  This might have a negative impact during the upcoming elections. The next  Legislative Assembly can decide what to do with this foul-smelling story,” the source in the Legislative Assembly told Kommersant.

The gay community notes with satisfaction the contrary effect [generated by] the United Russia initiative. Igor Kochetkov, director of the LGBT organization Coming Out, told Kommersant that if the bill becomes law he will “be the first to have it applied.” “As soon as the law takes effect, I’ll go right to the city prosecutor’s office and demand that Milonov and Babich be prosecuted for promotion of homosexuality,” Mr. Kochetkov promised. “You can’t imagine how people’s attention to our problems has grown after their public statements. We’ve literally been flooded with letters and calls of support. In Russia alone, we’ve collected over ten thousand signatures on a petition against passage of the law.”

Natalia Yevdokimova, secretary of the Petersburg Civil Rights Council and former three-time Legislative Assembly deputy, notes the “extreme illiteracy” of the amendments drafted by Mr. Milonov. “It’s bad enough that he uses non-legal terms, but ‘apples and oranges’ are also mixed up in this document. They want to cram a criminally punishable offense — promotion of pedophilia — into the law on administrative offenses, but pedophilia is purely a matter for the Criminal Code. And I’m confident that any court would immediately toss out these amendments for their flagrant illiteracy,” said Ms. Yevdokimova. It was unclear to her why this bill has appeared on the eve of the elections: “The pre-election stress is bad enough as it is in the entire city, in the country. It is unclear why United Russia wants to add fuel to the fire. It’s just stupid.”

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www.zaks.ru/new/archive/view/67190
March 8, 2010

[…]

Moreover, Milonov noted that former US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice “behaves like a monkey.” “Everyone in United Russia knows that Condoleeza Rice has monkey brains,” Milonov said.

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The following was posted on November 21, 2011, on the LiveJournal blog of Sergei Shestakov, a deputy in Petersburg’s Avtovo municipal district council and a candidate in the upcoming elections to the Petersburg Legislative Assembly. A member of the A Just Russia party, he is running in the same electoral precinct as Vitaly Milonov.

Today I was informed that Vitaly Milonov was again buying off voters — this time not at his constituent outreach office, but at the Orbita movie theater. I decided to find out how much money from the budget Vitaly Milonov had blown on buying food packages.

A very long queue of dozens of people who had braved the cold after hearing about United Russia’s incredible generosity had formed outside the building.

In the Orbita theater itself, people who came were handed food parcels to the tune of six hundred rubles each. The plastic bags, emblazoned with the inscription “All-Russia Popular Front” and [the organization’s] emblem, each contained a tin of caviar, a box of candies, a cake, canned peas and corn, coffee, and other products. United Russian and Milonov campaign brochures had been carefully planted in each parcel. The people in [United Russia] scarves [who handed out the parcels] did not specify how to eat [the brochures].

When my campaign agent asked the staff (the women handing out the presents, who walked around in United Russia scarves) whether they thought this was bribery of voters, they confidently replied that it was the social security department that was handing everything out. The Milonov Social Security Department was generous: all the rooms were filled with boxes, and it was hard to elbow one’s way past them.

People stood outside in the light frost, waiting for rations, as if this were still the time of the Siege [of Leningrad, during WWII]. The fact that the products purchased were the cheapest, and not very fresh, hardly bothered them at all.

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The Campaign against Petersburg’s Proposed Homophobic Law

Breaking News: Interfax, Gazeta.Ru and other sources are now reporting that during its session today (November 23), the Petersburg Legislative Assembly has decided to postpone indefinitely the second reading of its draft law banning the “promotion of homosexuality.” United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov, the bill’s author, is quoted as saying that the postponement was necessary in order to “clarify all the legal definitions involved in this law.”

The Mariinsky Palace, home of the legislative assembly, was picketed this morning by several dozen LGBT activists and their supporters.

It’s clear that the spirited fightback by local activists and the extremely negative publicity the proposed bill has generated in the international press and international public opinion have begun to sway minds in the legislative assembly.

Help activists keep up the pressure by:

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Amnesty International Slams Gay Law
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
November 23, 2011

A protester holds a sign Sunday reading ‘I’m a lesbian. A person, not propaganda.’ Photo: Sergey Chernov

The St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly is encountering increased criticism from within Russia and abroad as it gets ready to pass United Russia’s anti-gay law in a second reading. Meanwhile, Russian officials are talking about expanding the anti-“gay propaganda” law proposed by Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev’s party to the entire nation.

Amnesty International, which condemned the draft law as “draconian,” warned that the measure will rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of LGBT people and organizations and their reaching out to the media and the Internet, severely curtailing the publication of anything relating to LGBT rights or providing assistance or advice.

“This bill is a thinly-veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia’s second-biggest city,” Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director Nicola Duckworth said in a statement Friday.

“The notion that [LGBT] rights activists are somehow converting Russia’s youth through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable if the potential effects of this new law weren’t so dangerous and wide-reaching… Instead of seeking to restrict freedom of expression and assembly for [LGBT] people, the Russian authorities should be doing more to safeguard their rights and protect them from discrimination and violence.”

Earlier, the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights addressed the Legislative Assembly in an open letter, reminding it that Russia is party to both the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which make clear that the freedom to receive and impart information cannot be limited, except under the ambit of public order.

“We’re getting great behind-the-scenes support, with certain [European] deputies and ministers calling the Legislative Assembly’s deputies and [its United Russia chair Vadim] Tyulpanov and speaking to them,” said Igor Kochetkov, director of the LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out).

“Sometimes even we don’t know who exactly is calling, but we know that it’s happening.”

The All Out web site launched a petition against the bill Monday. It had been signed by 115,345 people around the world by Tuesday evening. [Editor’s Note. On Wednesday morning, it had been signed by 157,265 people.]

On Saturday, LGBT activists seized the podium of a forum for NGOs from Northern Europe and Russia, whose priority topics were equality, tolerance and gender equality. Local officials spoke about the tolerance program and human rights protection in the city.

Kochetkov, who managed to get hold of the microphone between the speeches, urged the forum to draft a resolution on the issue, and the forum’s international participants to inform their governments about gross violations of human rights in Russia.

Activists in the audience had posters, one of which read “Tolerance is for society, not only for international forums!”

The draft law, which was introduced by the chair of the Legislative Assembly’s legislation committee and United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov on Nov. 11, was passed by the Legislative Assembly almost unanimously in its first hearing on Nov. 16.

Thirty seven deputies voted for the law, one against and one abstained.

The second hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 23. The bill will become a law when it has passed three hearings and is signed by the governor.

In the past week, the bill was backed by a federal official and a number of Moscow deputies who suggested a similar draft law might be introduced in Moscow as well.

Valentina Matviyenko, Chair of the Federation Council and former St. Petersburg Governor, supported the bill when speaking in the Ryazan Oblast on Thursday, adding it might be expanded throughout the whole of Russia.

“If I were a member of the Legislative Assembly, I would support this bill, because no one has the right to involve a child in things like that,” Matviyenko was quoted as saying.

“And everything that destroys the mind and health of a child, a minor — all this should be strictly blocked. If this law has a positive effect, then we can consider expanding it to the national level.”

Natalya Yevdokimova and Ksenia Vakhrusheva of the Yabloko Democratic Party see the bill as a populist pre-election stunt by United Russia as polls show the party rapidly losing popularity.

Alexander Vinnikov of the St. Petersburg Human Rights Council sees the bill as more than just a pre-election stunt.

Drawing comparison to anti-gay legislation in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that adopted laws punishing homosexuals in the 1930s, Vinnikov explained the bill as an attempt at consolidating society on the foundation of hatred toward a minority.

“Every totalitarian regime started from persecuting gays. I urge the public to condemn this bill as a drift toward totalitarianism,” he said Tuesday.

As public protests in St. Petersburg continued, the activists encountered arrests and violence. Two activists were detained outside the Legislative Assembly on Nov. 16 and charged with holding an unauthorized rally.

On Sunday, after the largest rally against the bill held so far, which took place on Palace Square near the Winter Palace, several supporters were beaten by young men wearing black coats and hoods. The rally consisted of a dozen activists standing with posters, while about 150 supported them with applause.

A group of social workers were assaulted soon after the rally as they walked near the Moika River, close to Palace Square. Six to eight attackers charged them, punching and kicking them, activists said.

The attack left a young Russian woman with a bruised face, another with a cut lip, and one German man with a broken tooth, according to Vykhod’s press officer Gulya Sultanova.

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http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/russia-st-petersburg-urged-to-halt-draconian-anti-gay-bill
November 18, 2011
Russia: St. Petersburg urged to halt draconian anti-gay bill

Amnesty International today urged authorities in Russia’s second largest city not to enact a homophobic bill, saying it would threaten freedom of expression and fuel discrimination against the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

The bill, which St. Petersburg’s city assembly passed nearly unanimously on the first of three readings on Wednesday, effectively bans public events by LGBTI people and organizations under the pretext of protecting minors.

If enacted, the law would allow authorities to impose fines of up to the equivalent of US$1,600 for “public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.”

“This bill is a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia’s second-biggest city,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

“The notion that LGBTI rights activists are somehow converting Russia’s youth through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable, if the potential effects of this new law weren’t so dangerous and wide-reaching.”

Local LGBTI rights activists have blasted the law, saying it will provide legal cover for banning any of their actions, including the distribution of information leaflets or even actions against homophobia.

Under the measure, freedom of assembly and expression for LGBTI groups would be prohibited anywhere children might be present. This would rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of LGBTI people and organizations.

The publication of anything relating to LGBTI rights or providing assistance or advice – including informative leaflets as well as publications in the media and on the internet – would also be severely curtailed.

Other Russian cities like Moscow have planned legislation to ban “propaganda for homosexuality”, while Arkhangelsk and the region of Riazan have already introduced such legislation.

Although consensual same-sex activity was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, LGBTI people still face widespread discrimination and violence.

LGBTI activists’ attempts to organize Pride marches, cultural festivals and other events in major cities, including St. Petersburg, have frequently been met with official red tape and violence from anti-gay groups, among them people associating themselves with the Orthodox Church. Violent attacks against LGBTI activists often go unpunished.

“Legislation like that proposed in St. Petersburg will only further marginalize LGBTI people, and must be stopped,” said Nicola Duckworth.

“Instead of seeking to restrict freedom of expression and assembly for LGBTI people, Russian authorities should be doing more to safeguard their rights and protect them from discrimination and violence.”

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Russia: A Bill to Silence Millions (petition) / LGBT Activists Crash NGO Forum in Petersburg

www.allout.org/en/actions/russia_silenced

Russia: a bill to silence millions

Russian%20activists_large

Russian LGBT activists are detained for the simple act of publicly demanding their rights.

57,608
GOAL: 75,000
57,608 people support this campaign. Help us get to 75,000.

Political leaders in St. Petersburg are about to vote on law that will make it illegal for any person to write a book, publish an article or speak in public about being gay, lesbian or transgender. The ruling party led by President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin could make millions of people invisible with the stroke of a pen. Human rights defenders around the country are doing everything they can to stop it. They are risking their freedom to organize flashmobs and protests, but they are afraid that it won’t be enough. Right now, the world needs to speak up and tell Russian authorities to drop the bill. Join this call to leaders around the world to reach out to their counterparts in the Russian government – and ask them to reject this discriminatory and anti-democratic law.

TO WORLD LEADERS:

The party led by Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin is pushing discriminatory legislation against lesbian, bi, gay and trans people that could eliminate their freedom to speak publicly and assemble. Russia is a signatory to numerous international human rights treaties – including the European Convention on Human Rights. We call on you to urgently speak out and hold Russia accountable to its treaty obligations – and stand with LGBT Russians whose ability to speak for themselves is under attack.

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Sign the petition here.

You can see Sergey Chernov’s photo reportage of Sunday’s flash mob against the proposed law on Palace Square here.

On November 16, the International Day for Tolerance, Petersburg LGBT activists and their supporters picketed the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly.

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Echo Moscow in St. Petersburg · November 20, 2011

Gay activists seized the podium of an international forum to be heard

On November 19, as part of Finland’s presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, a forum for NGOs from Northern Europe and Russia opened in Saint Petersburg.

Among the announced priority topics of the forum were equality, tolerance and gender equality.

Representatives of the State Duma, the Government of Saint Petersburg, and the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg (Vatanyar Yagya) spoke at length about how Saint Petersburg is a progressive city, and the protection of human rights is an extremely important task for the governments of Russia and Petersburg.

While one of the scheduled speakers lingered on his way to the podium, LGBT activists from the Russian LGBT Network, Coming Out, and the Side by Side Film Festival took the floor.

Igor Kochetkov’s speech was brief: during the minute and a half that he was able to to hold onto the microphone, Kochetkov managed to report on the homophobic bill [now under consideration in the Petersburg Legislative Assembly], gross human rights violations in Saint Petersburg and Russia, and the lack of reaction on the part of officials to complaints by citizens and organizations. He urged the forum to draft a resolution on this issue, and the forum’s international participants to inform their governments about the despotism of the Russian authorities.

During Igor Kochetkov’s speech, the activists, who had made their way into the hall in advance under the guise of forum participants and had nearly been put to sleep by the lovely speeches of the Russian bureaucrats, unfurled banners (“Tolerance is for society, not only for international forums!” Russia! Respect Gay and Lesbian Human Rights,” “Let’s Stop the Homophobic Law Together!” “Deputies! Respect the Russian Federation Constitution”) and handed out leaflets.

Officials and representatives of Russian and foreign NGOs listened to the speech in total silence; some applauded. At the exit of the conference room, as they hurried to leave the premises, the activists were met by a security guard who escorted them to the front door of the hotel.

An activist with a video camera who remained in the hall managed to record the following speech, by the Russian Presidential Plenipotentiary in the Northwest Federal District, which was full of sparkling humor. He said that the applause after the appearance by the activists was actually applause for Russia’s democracy, and that garden homes were the pillar of the strong Russian family.

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Kommersant, Flagship of the Russian Liberal Press: “Insignificant Gatherings of Sodomites”

Editor’s Note. In the following, the emphasis is ours.

http://www.kommersant.com/about.asp

[Kommersant founder Vladimir] Yakovlev and his colleagues were the first to introduce the Western principle of information presentation, “the principle of the overturned pyramid”: the essence of the information, what, where, and when, was compressed into the first three sentences. That was how lead stories appeared. (Since then it has become an indispensable attribute of every article in every edition of Kommersant). The details сame only after this lead. There was one more principle: just the facts — no evaluations, no moralizing, and especially no “personal author’s or civic positions.” Brevity, discretion in evaluations, a cool aloof tone, and irony.

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http://kommersant.ru/doc/1815821/print
Kommersant Saint Petersburg, No. 212, Supplement (4752), 14.11.2011
Public Morality as an Electoral Resource
The Legislative Assembly Plans to Ban Gay Parades

While United Russia’s faction in the State Duma adopts one outrageous bill after another, causing mass protests and hunger strikes throughout Russia, [Petersburg] city legislators are trying to save the party’s face at the regional level. Last Friday, United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov promised to introduce to the Legislative Assembly a regional law banning promotion of sexual perversion. ANDREI TSYGANOV has the details.

According to the Legislative Assembly’s web site, deputies of the city’s parliament plan, “at one of [its] upcoming sessions,” to consider the draft law “On Amendments to the Law of Saint Petersburg ‘On Administrative Offenses in Saint Petersburg,'” which would add a clause making “public actions to promote sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, [and] transgenderism amongst minors” an administrative offense. The [proposed] law also introduces penalties for “public actions aimed at promoting pedophilia.” The penalty [for violating this law], however, would be fairly nominal: in both cases it would range from one to three thousand rubles for individuals, while officials would be fined from three to five thousand rubles, and organizations, from ten to fifty thousand rubles.

The bill does not specify what is meant by “public actions.” However, there is reason to believe that the law, if adopted, may be sufficiently broad in scope. Cause for optimism is given by comments made by the author of the bill, United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov: “Calls from the public to stop the flow of immoral information which is dumped on children and young people have recently become louder and louder. Over the centuries in our country, family values ​​were at the forefront. Today, attempts are being made to change basic social guidelines. Parents and schools sometimes are unable to c0unter the powerful show business industry, which promotes immorality and permissiveness. The purpose of this bill is to protect morals and morality as the foundation of a healthy society.”

The current initiative of Petersburg’s United Russia faction is not original: regional laws on the protection of morality exist in many regions of Russia (for instance, the Ryazan Region law on the protection of the morals and health of children, passed on March 22, 2006, and the law of the Arkhangelsk Region, “On Separate Measures to Protect the Morals and Health of Children,” passed in September 2011, etc.) and were adopted there long before the elections. Petersburg, on the contrary, was until recently a “pioneer” in the promotion of perversion, as well as in programs of “sex education” for children, which are linked [to perversion] and implemented via western grants: it suffices to say that during Valentina Matvyienko’s administration, Petersburg was the first and only Russian city in which several officially sanctioned “public actions aimed at promoting” sodomy took place.

The context in which the adoption of the first document in defense of morality in the city’s modern history is taking place is worth noting. A week ago, the State Duma, backed by the United Russia majority, adopted in the third reading the scandalous law “On Protection of the Health of Citizens in the Russian Federation,” which legalizes donation of children’s organs and provides for forced sterilization of the disabled and medical intervention, including abortions, without parental consent from the age of fifteen.  This law has caused unprecedented protest by citizens — tens of thousands of letters, telegrams, and even mass hunger strikes by indignant parents across Russia, something completely ignored by both the Duma and the Federation Council, which subsequently ratified the law. In the same mode, despite strong public opposition, the Duma majority has attempted in the past few months to push through the law “On Education,” which in its current form undermines national traditions of education, reducing the latter to the “provision of (in most cases, paid) educational services.” However, unlike the law “On Health,” adoption of this document has at present been postponed.

It is clear that this legislative activity at the federal level hardly adds any votes for United Russia. In this regard, Vitaly Milonov’s obviously necessary and useful bill is only an attempt to reassure Petersburg’s concerned public by throwing it a “bone” in the form of a promised ban on insignificant (in the electoral sense) gatherings of sodomites.

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Editor’s Note. You can send your comments to Kommersant at: kommersant@kommersant.ru. Happily (for “Andrei Tsyganov,” apparently), the Petersburg Legislative Assembly voted for the bill during its first reading yesterday. Kommersant “has the details”:

Kommersant Saint Petersburg, No. 215 (4755), 17.11.2011
Promoters of Sexual Perversion Will Be Punished in Their Wallets

Yesterday, as [Kommersant] predicted, the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly approved the first reading of a bill that establishes administrative responsibility for the promotion of homosexuality, pedophilia and other forms of sexual perversion amongst minors. Thirty-seven of the thirty-nine deputies present at the meeting voted for the bill (there was one vote against the bill, and one absention). The bill proposes punishing the promotion of perversion with fines: from one to three thousand rubles for individuals, and from three to five thousand for officials. Such insignificant penalties outraged some deputies. Thus, Elena Babich, a deputy from the LDPR faction, said that in her opinion, “The hidden promotion of homosexuality and pedophilia is under way throughout the city.” “What is a fine of one or three thousand rubles for a pedophile, when they [sic] are supported by international circles?” the deputy complained. According to Elena Babich, penalties for such actions should be very palpable, and personal punishment in some cases might include severe prison sentences.

In turn, the author of the bill, United Russia member Vitaly Milonov, would not rule out that in the future the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly would go to the State Duma with a proposal to impose more stringent measures against pedophiles on the federal level. Deputies from the Motherland faction in the State Duma had previously made such proposals, including the introduction of criminal responsibility for promoting perversion, but these attempts were blocked by the United Russia majority.

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Here, Sergey Chernov gives a little lesson in what actual fact-based reporting on this story should look like:

‘Homophobic’ Bill Attracts Protests
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
November 16, 2011

LGBT activists and human rights organizations are protesting in St. Petersburg with petitions against what they say is a homophobic draft law proposed by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in an attempt to gather more votes from conservatives ahead of the Dec. 4 State Duma elections.

On Friday, the Legislative Assembly’s legislation committee introduced a draft amendment to the local law “On Administrative Offences in St. Petersburg” that would outlaw “public actions directed at promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism to minors” if approved by the Legislative Assembly.

According to the draft law, violators will be fined. The fines would be from 1,000 to 3,000 rubles (about $33 to $100) for individuals, 3,000 to 5,000 rubles ($100 to $160) for officials and 10,000 to 50,000 ($325 to $3,630) rubles for legal entities.

“The objective of this draft law is to protect morals as the foundation of a healthy society,” said Vitaly Milonov, chair of the legislative committee and a United Russia deputy, on the Legislative Assembly’s web site.

According to Milonov, the draft law is designed to assist parents and schools in opposing the “powerful showbiz industry that promotes immorality and permissiveness.”

Speaking Tuesday, Igor Kochetkov, director of the LGBT rights group Vykhod (Coming Out), drew attention to mistakes in the draft law, which misspells some key terms in Russian in its title.

“The total illiteracy of the definitions is striking, you can’t find such words in a dictionary, which shows that the authors were very much in a hurry,” he said.

“They didn’t even bother to show it to people who know Russian.”

Kochetkov said that the draft law “was introduced unexpectedly on Nov. 11, and they want its first hearing to be pretty soon — as early as on Nov. 16.”

“This indicates that they want it to pass before the elections — that it is a move in their election campaign, definitely. I think that if they fail to get it passed before the elections, it will not be of interest to them once the elections are over.”

On Tuesday, LGBT activists held a series of one-man demos, which do not require preliminary authorization under Russian law, in central St. Petersburg. Activists set up a scarecrow with a poster reading “Don’t let democracy slip away” and stood next to it, one by one, distributing leaflets.

Their posters read “I’m not a scarecrow! Don’t scare kids with me,” “Those under 18 aren’t allowed to look at me” and “Don’t take kids to the ballet — men wear pantyhose there.”

According to Coming Out, more than 1,000 residents have signed the petition against the draft law in person during the past three days, while more than 6,500 have signed it on the Internet.

In a statement, Coming Out said that if passed, the law would put restrictions on the activities of LGBT rights organizations.

“Consequently, any information campaigns directed at lowering xenophobia and preventing hate crimes based on homophobia would become impossible.”

Although Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, Ryazan and Arkhangelsk outlawed “promoting homosexuality” in the 2000s by passing laws similar to the United Russia bill in St. Petersburg.

Kochetkov described the laws as “unconstitutional,” saying they “limit rights and freedoms, while the constitution states clearly that rights and freedoms can be limited only by a federal law, rather than by regional ones.”

“If such a law is passed in St. Petersburg, we will go to the city court and will take it to the Supreme Court no matter what.”

The Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center asked the Legislative Assembly to reject the bill as “contradicting Russian and international legal norms” in a letter Tuesday.

“The passing [of the law] would lead to mass violations of human rights on the territory of St. Petersburg,” it said.

Coming Out’s activists said they would continue to protest and picket the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, when the draft law is due to be heard.

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