The Witch-Hunt Against Gays Has Begun
Published: February 6, 2013 (Issue # 1745)
OnáJan. 25, theáState Duma passed ináthe first reading aábill prohibiting display ofáôhomosexual propagandaö among minors. Theábill stipulates that anáindividual found guilty ofáviolating theálaw be fined up toá5,000 rubles ($167) andáthat aálegal entity face aáfine ofáup toá500,000 ($16,667) rubles. During theávote, gay rights activists protested outside theáDuma. Orthodox Christian supporters ofáthe law appeared, attacked theágay activists andáthrew snowballs, dirt andápaint bombs atáthemáŚ all under theáeyes ofáthe police officers standing nearby. Andáwhen theápolice finally took action, theáattackers went free. Instead, 20 gay protesters were arrested.
Foráthe bill toábecome law, it must go through two more readings ináthe Duma. It was sent back forámore work so that theámeaning ofáthe vague phrase ôhomosexual propagandaö could be clarified. So while all theáimplications ofáthe law are still unclear, two things are certain even now.
First, theábill is unconstitutional. Mikhail Fedotov, head ofáthe Council ofáHuman Rights, said ináan interview with Interfax, ôIf we say that propaganda ofáheterosexuality is allowed, then we immediately contradict theáconstitutional guarantee ofáequality among citizens, since theárights ofáa person belonging toáa sexual minority are impinged upon inácontrast with theárights ofáa person belonging toáthe sexuality majority.ö
Second, regardless ofáhow ô homosexual propagandaö is ultimately defined ináthe bill, theálegislation, if passed, will be applied much more broadly andáaffect more than homosexuals. Anáanalogous law onáthe books ináSt. Petersburg makes it aámisdemeanor toáôpropagandize sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality andátransgenderismö toáminors.
As aáresult, St. Petersburg is renowned as theáEuropean capital ofáhomophobia, where measures are periodically taken toátake rock musicians toácourtáŚ Madonna, Lady Gaga andáRammsteináŚ or toáblock MTV. TheáDumaĺs Committee onáFamily, Women andáChildren goes even further ináits recommendations andádemands aában even onáôperformances involving homosexuals ináplaces accessible toáchildren.ö This would produce aáblacklist ofágay actors andámusicians who would be banned fromátelevision screens before 11 p.m. Who knows how far these state homophobes may go? Perhaps as far as banning Oscar Wildeĺs fairy tales andáthe music ofáPyotr Tchaikovsky.
It is certain that theálegislation will spark aánationwide witch-hunt against public figures, journalists, teachers andáothers. Ilya Kolmanovsky was almost fired fromáa lycee where he teaches biology after school administrators received aánumber ofáletters, ostensibly fromáparents ofáhis students, accusing him ofáhomosexuality. Kolmanovsky had toáprove that he isnĺt gay andáthat he is married with two daughters. He insisted that he was theásubject ofáa smear campaign simply because he defended gay rights.
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