The State Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building has rejected a bill that would make it illegal to come out as gay in Russia, the Interfax news agency reported Monday.
Dmitry Vyatkin, the deputy chairman of the committee said that the draft bill was rejected “primarily due to the fact that from a formal legal perspective, the bill was illiterate,” the RBC news agency reported.
The bill is due to be considered by the State Duma in a first reading [today] Jan.19.
The measure, initiated by Communist Party deputies Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev, called for fines of up to to 5,000 rubles ($63) for public expressions of “non-traditional sexual orientation,” such as same-sex hugging, kissing and holding hands.
The lawmakers also proposed a prison sentence of up to 15 days for [public expression of same-sex affection at] educational, cultural or youth institutions.
The draft law drew criticism from the public, both in Russia and abroad. A petition on the online platform change.org against the new legislation gathered 41,900 signatures as of Monday.
If such public displays occur “on territories and in institutions, providing educational, cultural or youth services,” the offender could face an additional penalty of up to 15 days of administrative arrest.
“It is hard to exaggerate the sinister absurdity and abusive intent of this bill – it would effectively outlaw being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) and penalize people for expressing their identity, a crucial part of anyone’s existence,” wrote Tanya Cooper, Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch, ahead of the vote.
Nikitchuk defended the legislation during a meeting of the committee, calling homosexuality a “contagious disease” and a “threat to society,” as other lawmakers snickered, Radio Free Europe said.
“This is an illness on a level with drugs and alcoholism and other illnesses,” he added. “What’s more, this illness is contagious. For a young man with an unformed psyche, it represents a serious threat.”
- Russia will vote on jail time for LGBT affection in public (Jan. 14, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Russian LGBTI supporters march – with help from police (May 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Russian QueerFest: Success despite attacks, threats (September 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Anti-gay rage: Sign of progress toward gay rights? (January 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Court ruling: Russian LGBT group is ‘foreign agent’ (July 2014, 76crimes.com)