On November 30, the Federal Council of Russia unanimously voted in favour of a new anti-LGBTQ law, which will now be passed to Vladimir Putin to sign. The law, voted through by the Duma on the 24th, includes an amendment to a 2013 bill that banned what the government deemed to be the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors.
Russia: Lawmakers Approve Expanding Anti-LGBTQ Law https://t.co/0bSzyEtaib
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) December 2, 2022
The law also targets transgender people, prohibiting the sharing of information that may “cause minors a desire to change their sex.” The new anti-LGBTQ law applies to all ages, banning public displays of same-sex relationships, and the depiction of such in film, literature, advertising, and online media.
Those who are deemed guilty of breaking this law can face hefty fines, of 400 000 ($6,555) rubles for individual citizens, or 5 million rubles ($81,934) for organisations. Foreigners can face up to 15 days in jail, and expulsion from the country.
The introduction of this law is by no means separate from the Russian-Ukrainian war. Earlier in the passage of this bill, Russian MP Alexander Khiril insisted that LGBTQ media was a “tool of hybrid war,” focusing his sights on a number of Western films and TV shows, including the cartoon, “Peppa Pig,” for depicting a panda with two mothers.
Meanwhile in Moscow, Russian MP Alexander Khinshtein has declared war on South Park and Peppa Pig pic.twitter.com/3UCZijwkx6
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) October 17, 2022
The war has caused Russia to steadily move towards conservative values, in a bid to protect “traditional” Russian values.
The religious justifications for the homophobic law are inseparable from the political tensions currently at play, and nationalism and “morality” appear to go hand in hand. Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin claims that everything other than “normal life is sin, sodomy, and darkness, and our country will fight against it.”
It remains to be seen if the passage of this anti-LGBTQ law is, indeed, a bid to distract conservative Russians from the economic problems and difficulties of the war, as some argue, or to ensure the “morality of a country at war.”
This is, of course, a difficult time for LGBTQ individuals and organisations in Russia. The new law seeks to isolate LGBTQ individuals, and in doing so, to add them to a long list of “Other” that Russia combats.
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It is no longer safe for queer individuals to live openly. Acceptance, a support centre for LGBTQ people, based in Tatarstan, announced on November 25 that it would be closing down. “The VK website and support group are being closed. Open support groups for queer people in Kazan are being suspended,” Acceptance announced on their Instagram.
The increased amount of surveillance and censorship will come as no surprise.
Last month, TikTok was fined 3 million rubles ($50,000) for showing LGBTQ content, under the pre-existing law.
Materials published online including any information on peadophilia, sex changes, or “LGBTQ propaganda” will all be monitored or blocked by Roskomnadzo.
The isolation and concealment of an entire demographic will leave LGBTQ people more vulnerable to demonisation on the part of the Russian government.
However, the law has not gone without resistance. Although the lawmakers of the federal council made a unanimous vote, individuals and organisations within Russia have shown their dissent.
The English-language TV channel, on Russia’s biggest independent news station, TV Rain, has changed its logo to include rainbow colours, in protest of the bill.
— vera krichevskaya (@krichevskaya) November 30, 2022
In an unlikely turn of events, an LGBTQ museum opened last week in St. Petersburg. The founder, Pyotr Voskresensky, was particularly inspired by his visit to the Tchaikovsky museum, Tchaikovsky being perhaps Russia’s most famous gay man.
Voskresensky told Open Democracy, “I am aware that all this can end badly, so I take the risk only on myself and I don’t call anyone to get involved.” Voskresensky mourns that “We are returning to medieval, archaic ideas.”
However, his museum is founded on the premise of the “immortality” of the LGBTQ community, and the “hope that if we have a past, we will have a future.”
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Pride flags being waved on a smoky street. Featured Photo Credit: Teddy O.