Kissing protest outside Russian parliament over gay 'propaganda' ban


Same-sex couples staged a kissing protest outside the Russian parliament yesterday against a proposed nationwide ban on gay “propaganda”.

Public bodies and non-governmental groups could be fined up to 500,000 roubles (€12,200) for promoting homosexual “propaganda” to minors, under a law being considered by the Duma.

For the gay and bisexual couples who kissed and embraced outside the Duma in front of an audience of journalists and stony-faced police officers, the law will force some to stay in the closet, while openly gay people will face more stigma and discrimination in daily life.

“This Bill deprives us of the right to be who we are. It will be awful for people who want to live openly and fight for their rights,” one protester, Elena Kostyuchenko, told The Irish Times. Minutes later Ms Kostyuchenko and her girlfriend, arms locked together, were dragged away by police and put in a waiting van.

In October, deputies at the Council of Europe voiced “serious concern” about “continuing attacks” on gay rights in Russia.

Proponents argue such laws are necessary to protect children. “Propaganda of homosexuality is widespread in modern Russia . . . and is especially dangerous for children and young people who are not able to critically evaluate this avalanche of information,” according to the text of the Novosibirsk law, cited in state newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta. The federal ban will be considered by Duma deputies on January 23rd.

One protester, Vera Kachanova, said the law would deepen a climate of intolerance in small towns and the countryside. “In big cities there is no need to hide your sexual orientation at work or from your friends because people have ‘European attitudes’, more or less. But in small towns and in the countryside it is dangerous [to be openly gay].”