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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

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphotos exhibition On Both Sides, chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organizations office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Centers series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this months lessons being visual arts.



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