BY NATASHA BARSOTTI - The concerted push to criminalize
queers across Russia got another boost when the country's third-largest city,
Novosibirsk, became the latest jurisdiction to pass so-called anti-gay
propaganda legislation on April 27.
Before Novosobirsk, the cities of Ryazan, Arkangelsk, Kostroma and
St Petersburg passed similar legislation that Orthodox Church and political
authorities want to see in place federally.
According to The Moscow Times, regional deputy Alexander
Ilyushchenko says the law is all about protecting the "majority of people
who are not associated with homosexuality," so they don't have to explain
to -- yep, you guessed it -- "their children that things like this happen."
The law, and others like it, is meant to prevent promotion of public actions aimed
at "propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among
Ilyushchenko says gay pride parades are among the events
that the new measure could target for a crackdown. Potential fines for breaching it range
from 1,000 ($30) to 3,000 rubles for private citizens, 3,000 to 5,000 for
officials and 10,000 to 50,000 for legal bodies, it was
So far the courts have not, for one reason or another,
invoked the measures in the cases brought before them.
Bearing placards that read, "Gay -- this is
normal," Moscow Pride activists Alexei Kiselyov and Kirill Nepomnyashy,
two of the first to be arrested under St Peterburg's new law, were released for
lack of sufficient evidence.
More recently, a straight man, Sergey Kondrashov, was
cleared of holding up a gay rights banner -- again in St Petersburg -- though he
was found guilty of disobeying police orders.
His sign bore the words "A dear family friend is
lesbian. My wife and I love and respect her and her family is just
as equal as ours."
"I was accused only of disobeying the policeman, but
all evidence of the supposed 'propaganda' I was spreading disappeared from the
court record," Kondrashov said, according to an allout.org release.
He added, "I will continue to stand for what is
right. I was not an activist before, but now I am committed to fighting this
'gay propaganda' law. Supporters of the law claim that it would 'protect
children,' but my arrest makes clear the real intention. This law is really
about making lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people disappear in Russia's
second largest city."
"This despicable law could go national -- unless we
fight it now," Kondrashov concluded.