Russian Duma gives LGBTQ ‘propaganda’ bill final approval

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MOSCOW (AP) – Russian lawmakers on Thursday gave their final approval to a bill that significantly expands restrictions on activities deemed to promote gay rights in the country, another step in a years-long crackdown on the country’s embattled LGBTQ community.

The new bill expands a ban on what authorities call “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors, established by legislation called the “homosexual propaganda” law. It was adopted by the Kremlin in 2013 in an attempt to promote “traditional values” in Russia.

This year, lawmakers moved to ban the dissemination of such information to people 18 and older.

The bill was approved at the third and final reading on Thursday by the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. It will go next to the upper house, the Federation Council, and then to President Vladimir Putin, whose signature will give it legal force.

The new bill bans all advertising, media and online resources, books, films and theatrical productions deemed to contain such “propaganda,” a term loosely defined in the bill. The 2013 ban was often enacted against all depictions of same-sex unions and used as a tool to crack down on LGBTQ rights groups and activists.

Violations are punishable by fines. If committed by non-residents, they may lead to their deportation from Russia. The fines range from 100,000 to 2 million rubles ($1,660-$33,000). For some violations, aliens may face 15 days of detention before deportation.

The bill does not make violations punishable. Russian law stipulates that the Criminal Code can only be changed through an independent bill. Some lawmakers have suggested they favor such a measure.

Russia explicitly banned same-sex marriage in 2020 by passing amendments to the country’s constitution that stipulated, among other things, that “the institution of marriage is a union between a man and a woman.”

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