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Citys Anti-Gay Law to Be Abolished

Published: June 25, 2014 (Issue # 1817)



  • Anti-gay lawmaker Vitaly Milonov and his supporters protest against an LGBT rights rally on the Field of Mars in 2013.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

St. Petersburgs infamous anti-gay law has been abolished by the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly in a second reading of amendments during a council session on June 18. The amendments were initiated by the Legislative Assemblys United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov, who had originally introduced the law in 2011.

According to Milonov, the local law prohibiting the promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bi-sexuality and transgenderism to minors, became redundant after a similar national law came into force in June 2013. However, Milonov, who chairs the Legislative Assemblys committee on legislation, said he would now work on amendments to the Russian Criminal Code to criminalize the alleged offense.

Despite domestic and international criticism and protests for being anti-constitutional and violating Russias international obligations, the citys anti-gay law came into effect on Mar. 17, 2012 after passing three readings at the Legislative Assembly and finally signed by St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko.

The more vaguely termed national law, prohibiting the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations, was proposed to the State Duma on Mar. 28, 2012, soon after the controversial presidential election that year, which was marked by mass protests, and came into force on June 30, 2013 after being signed by Vladimir Putin, who had returned to the presidency.

In over two years since Milonovs initiative had become a law, the only person punished by court for alleged gay propaganda has been Moscow-based LGBT activist Nikolai Alexeyev, who was detained outside the city administration during his one-man protest on Apr. 12, 2012. A St. Petersburg court imposed a fine of 5,000 rubles ($145) on Alexeyev for his sign saying Homosexuality is not a perversion. Hockey on grass and ballet on ice are, a quote from the famous Russian and Soviet actress Faina Ranevskaya.

Alexeyev, the organizer of the Moscow Gay Pride Rally who won a lawsuit against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2010 over 164 bans on LGBT rallies issued by the Moscow administration, filed lawsuits against the law with the St. Petersburg Statutory Court for violating the City Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically Article 10, Freedom of expression, and Article 14, Prohibition of discrimination. Russia is a signatory member of the convention.

In a statement on June 18, Alexeyev said that Milonov backed down because he feared expected rulings against the law. Milonov apparently got scared and decided not to wait for a humiliating verdict of the European Court of Human Rights, where his law will obviously have a fiasco, he said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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