It's a fact now. A law that used to be in place only in St. Petersburg and a few other Russian towns, is already federal law. It's the law banning "propaganda" of homosexuality in the presence of minors. The measure has caused a storm of protests from the human rights circles, but those protests are now being crushed, as seen in the above article.
Of course, Putin has signed the bill into law without a shred of remorse. The other head of the uneven two-headed hydra, Medvedev had his reservations, but he's not the one who's calling the shots. Putin is. And dear leader has now protected Mother Russia from those pesky evil gays. The Russians can sleep well, now that this major threat has been removed.
Technically, the bill was drafted by the Duma committee for the Family, Women and Children. The chairlady, Elena Mizulina of the center-left party A Just Russia defended the bill by saying that "Children, when they grow up, should have an opportunity to decide for themselves what sort of sexual relations they want to have. They should mature "in a normal, adequate" atmosphere". That's nice...
Doesn't matter that the claim that one could become homosexual under public pressure is very debatable. But in Russia many people believe it is true. Hence, the bill didn't meet the resistance it would've met, had this happened in some other countries. Under this law, even talking about homosexuality in the presence of minors, or kisses between two people of the same gender in public would be punishable with fines worth up to 12,000 euros.
As a matter of fact, many Russian politicians are in favor of this law. Like I said, Dmitry Medvedev is not one of them, at least on the surface. In a TV interview he expressed his opposition to the bill. And you'd think his word would count for something, since he's officially the leader of the ruling United Russia party, now that they've re-swapped places with his mentor Putin, and Medvedev is prime minister (i.e. 2nd in the state hierarchy)? But no. Not a single MP from his party dared to publicly distance themselves from the bill. That's how tightly Putin is holding all of them.
As one might expect, dozens of Russian cities woke up to the sounds of activist protests in defense of the rights of homosexuals in the country. They're protesting against state-sanctioned promotion of homophobia. The consequences from this law could be devastating for the lives of thousands of people, possibly even resulting in suicides. But the authorities would have none of it. Instead, they're doing their best to contain the protests and smear them to a point where the public itself would push back against them. Or just crush them when necessary.
In St. Petersburg, where this law was introduced for the first time, the protests are being allowed only indoors - far away from the public eye. Now that the law has become federal, there'll probably be challenges against it on grounds of unconstitutionality. The argument here being that you can't prohibit something that's not a punishable act by any interpretation of the Constitution. It's supposed to be protecting the rights of sexual minorities, but in reality what's being pushed to the fore is exactly this nihilism against which the government has been claiming to be fighting from day one.
So why is such a law needed, if we're to look beneath the veil of all this propaganda? Could it be that the Russian rulers are trying to divert public attention from the problems that really matter - such as poverty, corruption and authoritarianism, just before the coming elections? You decide.