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The Witch-Hunt Against Gays Has Begun

Published: February 6, 2013 (Issue # 1745)




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OnJan. 25, theState Duma passed inthe first reading abill prohibiting display ofhomosexual propaganda among minors. Thebill stipulates that anindividual found guilty ofviolating thelaw be fined up to5,000 rubles ($167) andthat alegal entity face afine ofup to500,000 ($16,667) rubles. During thevote, gay rights activists protested outside theDuma. Orthodox Christian supporters ofthe law appeared, attacked thegay activists andthrew snowballs, dirt andpaint bombs atthem all under theeyes ofthe police officers standing nearby. Andwhen thepolice finally took action, theattackers went free. Instead, 20 gay protesters were arrested.

Forthe bill tobecome law, it must go through two more readings inthe Duma. It was sent back formore work so that themeaning ofthe vague phrase homosexual propaganda could be clarified. So while all theimplications ofthe law are still unclear, two things are certain even now.

First, thebill is unconstitutional. Mikhail Fedotov, head ofthe Council ofHuman Rights, said inan interview with Interfax, If we say that propaganda ofheterosexuality is allowed, then we immediately contradict theconstitutional guarantee ofequality among citizens, since therights ofa person belonging toa sexual minority are impinged upon incontrast with therights ofa person belonging tothe sexuality majority.

Second, regardless ofhow homosexual propaganda is ultimately defined inthe bill, thelegislation, if passed, will be applied much more broadly andaffect more than homosexuals. Ananalogous law onthe books inSt. Petersburg makes it amisdemeanor topropagandize sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality andtransgenderism tominors.

As aresult, St. Petersburg is renowned as theEuropean capital ofhomophobia, where measures are periodically taken totake rock musicians tocourt Madonna, Lady Gaga andRammstein or toblock MTV. TheDumas Committee onFamily, Women andChildren goes even further inits recommendations anddemands aban even onperformances involving homosexuals inplaces accessible tochildren. This would produce ablacklist ofgay actors andmusicians who would be banned fromtelevision screens before 11 p.m. Who knows how far these state homophobes may go? Perhaps as far as banning Oscar Wildes fairy tales andthe music ofPyotr Tchaikovsky.

It is certain that thelegislation will spark anationwide witch-hunt against public figures, journalists, teachers andothers. Ilya Kolmanovsky was almost fired froma lycee where he teaches biology after school administrators received anumber ofletters, ostensibly fromparents ofhis students, accusing him ofhomosexuality. Kolmanovsky had toprove that he isnt gay andthat he is married with two daughters. He insisted that he was thesubject ofa smear campaign simply because he defended gay rights.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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