Following the example of St. Petersburg, now other big Russian cities are preparing to adopt a new law that is set to impose fines for those who openly discuss homosexuality, let alone those who practice it. The state Duma is about to pass a federal law against "homosexual propaganda" that'll now be valid throughout the whole country. And that's happening in the 21st century.
The democratically leaning people and the civil rights advocates in Russia are in shock. In the future, whoever dares to even speak openly about issues of homosexuality would be considered a criminal. Until now St. Petersburg, probably the most popular tourist destination in Russia, used to have a watered-down law against "homosexual propaganda", under the pretense of protecting the children and youngsters (that's the official statement under the law: i.e. THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!). But now the federal parliament will impose a more extreme version of that law on the whole territory of the Russian Federation. If the bill is passed, there will be fines for anyone performing informative campaigns about the various sexual orientations. Of course, apart from the many discriminatory implications from this law, a side effect that shouldn't be underestimated is that it would additionally complicate the HIV/AIDS prevention. But the authorities wouldn't hear about it. "Public decency" and "morality" trumps all these considerations.
Sounds pretty much like a return to the Dark Ages, doesn't it? But the author of this bill, Vitaly Milonov from Putin's party United Russia is adamant. Just how extreme he is in this respect, is demonstrated by his latest statements: he recently accused the German industrial-metal band Rammstein in homosexual propaganda. Rammstein, of all bands! That same Milonov also warned Madonna to "watch out" and not even think of breaking the law at her concert in St. Petersburg. Because that same law also forbids movies, music videos, books and magazines with "homosexual content".
Surely, all this is in blatant violation of human rights, whichever way you look at it. Human rights, under which Russia (being a member of the European Council) has subscribed.
The LGBT community in Russia is in panic, and understandably so. Having in mind that even street protests against this law are strictly banned, many among them are considering leaving the country. The LGBT-haters don't mind that: "If you don't like it, leave". You'd think the people who think that way are a minority, but no. Turns out in Russia that's the predominant sentiment, as seen through the Russian segment of LJ as well.
A few activists recently made a video where, at the background of Tchaikovsky (who btw was also homosexual), they're appealing to the foreign tourists to boycott St. Petersburg. One of the strongest arguments against this law is that it puts people with homosexual orientation and pedophiles in the same category, thus effectively treating the former as criminals.
No surprise, the Russian Orthodox church is jubilant. The praise for the authorities is frequent and full with pathos. This law, you see, would provide a better protection for the Russian society against "immoral Western influences". St. Petersburg is now supposed to become "a champion of morality" and "a place of pilgrimage for all pious Christians".
And all that, after in 1993 Russia had changed its penal code to unban homosexuality. That may've looked like a step forward, but in fact the subject of homosexuality has largely remained a taboo in the Russian society ever since. And today's push for a retrograde legislation like this, is yet another step closer to the repressive times of the Soviet Union.