- (2013) Russia passed a law prohibiting propaganda of ‘non-traditional relationships’ in the presence of minors, at the federal level. Protection of minors or discrimination based on sexual orientation?
- Francesca Ugolino
- Dans Civitas Europa 2013/2 (N° 31), pages 331 à 332
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1In Russia, with the Federal Law of 11/06/2013 135-FZ was amended art. 5 of the Law “on the protection of children from information that can be damaging to their health and their devel opment”, introducing protection from propaganda that denies the traditional family values.
2The State Duma (lower house of parliament) approved in the third reading, with 436 votes in favor and one abstention, in essence unanimity, the measure on the protection of minors. Following the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin signed the law that makes definitive ban on dissemination of information on non-traditional sexual relations at the age of 18, believing that young people should be protected from propaganda ‘homosexual’ by the media and during the public events that minors are not able to evaluate the information with a critical approach.
3Compared to the text adopted at first reading by the lower house, in January 2013, the final text is modified in some parts, in particular: the terms “homosexual couples” were replaced by “non-traditional relationships”. However, many questions remain concerning the interpretation and application of the law as it’s difficult to define individual cases of conduct as propaganda and so establish whether such behavior should be punished or not.
4The new legislation provides for high fines for individuals, for event organizers and public officials. Specifically, it requires the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations in front of minors” is punishable by a fine ranging from four thousand to five thousand rubles (about 100-125 EUR) for individuals; however, who occupies a public office may incur in a fine of from forty thousand to fifty thousand rubles (about 1,000-1,250 EUR); if the violation is done through media include fines up to one million rubles (about 23,400 EUR). Also, foreigners are punishable by a fine of up to 100,000 rubles and may be held for 15 days and deported.
5It should be noted that, since 2006, several regions of the Russian Federation have adopted similar measures, in fact, the prohibition of propaganda of homosexuality is punishable by fines and/or criminal penalties in: Oblast ‘of Ryazan Oblast’ Arkhangelsk Oblast ‘of Kostroma Oblast’ Magadan, Krasnodar Krai, Oblast’ Samara, Bashkortostan, Oblast’ Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg and Oblast’ Novosibirsk. In 2012, it was the Parliament of that region of Novosibirsk to submit to the State Duma the proposed law which prohibits homosexual propaganda at federal level.
6In Russia, after about 20 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality, new measures make it increasingly difficult for the protection of people with different sexual orientation. The different declarations and positions expressed by President Putin and the political majority detect a hostile climate against homosexuals, is also found among the Russian population, as stated by recent statistical surveys. According to these studies, in most regions of the federal state, the majority of the population considers homosexuals “disgusting”.
7As noted by international organizations in defense of human rights, there is no denying that these measures limit, in fact, the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association of LGBTI people. Unfortunately, the ruling class in Russia, with the support of the Orthodox Church, shall promote measures ‘controversial’ against homosexuals. In this regard, it’s recalled the prohibition of the Gay Pride parade in Moscow for 100 years, although the European Court of human rights, in judgment Alekseyev c. Russia in 2010, condemned the Russian Federation, recognizing a violation of articles 11, 13 and 14 of the ECHR concerning, respectively, the right of assembly and association, the right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination. And yet, the recent bill (September 2013) that would deny child custody to homosexual parents.
8In this context, are not surprising the concerns of various organizations and institutions for the protection of human rights, against a law that, although it does not explicitly refer to homosexuality, it is considered discriminatory and anti-homosexual propaganda.