Russian Region Bans 'Homosexual Propaganda,' but Some Details Still Vague

A new law against "homosexual propaganda" went into effect this week in St. Petersburg, Russia after being signed by Governor Georgy Poltavchenko on March 7.

The regional law threatens fines for anyone found "making public actions among minors for the propaganda of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality or transgenderism." It also calls for fines for "propaganda of pedophilia."

Dr. Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute, told The Christian Post he was in Russia in 2008 and was involved in discussions about such a law. He said that St. Petersburg's new ban is a "step in the right direction," although how it will be implemented is somewhat ambiguous.

The FRI chairman said that LGBT parades, whether in the U.S. or in other countries, which are socially sanctioned and celebrated, can and do affect minors, and are powerful recruitment tools for the homosexual movement. He said that he deals with clients whose children are struggling with homosexuality "in substantial part because of these parades."

"[It] looks like the law will keep gay parades off the streets. This is very important, [because] when you allow a fundamentally disruptive anti-social group to hold a parade they are using public facilities and getting public attention." He compared these demonstrations to drug users having a public parade.

The St. Petersburg law is "a very important first step in defending against the gay onslaught" worldwide, he said.

But Polina Savchenko, a leader of a St. Petersburg LGBT group, told The Christian Science Monitor, "No legal experts seem able to explain how this law would be applied in practice."

"There is a fear that it will be used as an instrument to prevent any kind of activity the state doesn't approve of. The language of the law is so vague that it could apply to any kind of public discourse, any discussion of gay issues, in almost any venue. I mean, how can you be sure that minors won't access the Internet, or read mass media discussions?"

Hieromonk Dimitry (Pershin), an expert with the State Duma committee on family, women and children, said in an interview with Interfax-Religion that "the law passed in St. Petersburg will help protect children from information manipulations by minorities promoting sodomy."

"The persistence of sexual minorities and their intention to rally near children's establishments indicate that this regional law is highly needed and should be urgently given federal status. However, it's the job of State Duma deputies," Dimitry said.

Father Dmitry Pershin, a leading official in the Russian Orthodox Church, also wants the law to become a national one. He said in a statement that the law should be applied nationwide "without delay." And it should outlaw the promotion of homosexuality among minors.

But some human rights groups disagree. They are calling on Gov. Poltavchenko to veto the law saying it appears to equate homosexuality with pedophilia and could be used by authorities to crack down on gays.

A Russian gay pride parade organizer, Nikolay Alexeyev, said sexual minorities intended to hold protest rallies near some children's establishments in St. Petersburg to protest the law.

The St. Petersburg legislation was approved in late February, and The New York Times reports that "the law…appears to be a reaction to increasingly vocal efforts by gay rights groups, particularly in St. Petersburg and Moscow, to attract attention to the issue."

The law passed 29 to 5 and states that "public actions directed at the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors" are punishable with fines.

The Times also reports that the law defines homosexual propaganda as "'the targeted and uncontrolled dissemination of generally accessible information capable of harming the health and moral and spiritual development of minors,' particularly that which could create "a distorted impression" of 'marital relations.'"