Despite international protests but as widely expected, down came the word over the weekend that the governor of Russia’s second biggest city, Saint Petersburg, signed the infamous “gay propaganda” bill into law on March 7.
When it takes effect later this month, the law will make it a crime to “promote homosexuality” to minors, with fines of anywhere from 5,000 rubles (about $170) for an individual offense to 100 times that for an organization.
“We had no doubt that this would be signed by the Kremlin-nominated governor,” responded leading Russian gay rights activist Maria Efremenkova, “but we will fight against this discrimination.”
Because of the law’s unclear wording, no one is exactly sure yet what will be illegal nor how zealous officials will be about enforcement — but activists are already lining up to test the treacherous waters.
“The bill’s language is so vague and broad,” said Human Rights Watch earlier this month, “that it could lead to a ban on displaying a rainbow flag or wearing a T-shirt with a gay-friendly logo, or even on holding LGBT-themed rallies in the city.”
Famed Russian gay freedom fighter Nikolai Alekseev has made it quite clear that he will be among those protesting the law outside of Russian schools.
Yesterday Alekseev also filed a suit against the bill’s author, Vitaly Milonov, for one million rubles (about $34,000), for calling him a “girl” in a Russian TV interview. In the offending clip, Milonov claimed that he didn’t know how old Alekseev is, but “you don’t usually ask girls about this.”
Rainbow flag photo by brainchildvn