Editor’s note: As this story was published, Russia passed the bill by a unanimous vote, 434-0.
Original story follows:
Russia today is voting on a Vladimir Putin supported bill that makes it illegal to tell children gay people exist or that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality, and provides for fines, jail time, and deportation for those who violate the law.
“The bill provides for Russian citizens engaged in the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation’ to be fined, while foreigners could be arrested and immediately deported,” The Independent UK reports:
In recent weeks there have been two killings in which homophobia appears to have played at least a part, and the loose language of the law suggests that even services such as counselling for gay teenagers, or safe-sex advice, could theoretically be deemed illegal.
If the Duma passes the law in its key second reading, it could come into force by the end of the month.
A number of regions have already adopted a similar law, and now MPs from President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party want to implement a nationwide ban on “gay propaganda”.
The law defines the rather nebulous concept as “spreading information aimed at forming non- traditional sexual behaviour among children, suggesting this behaviour is attractive, and making a false statement about the socially equal nature of traditional and non-traditional relationships”.
“Gay activists gathered outside the parliament ahead of the vote and kissed in public but were outnumbered by several hundred supporters of the bill, some carrying religious icons,” AFP adds:
A police spokesman said around 20 were detained in scuffles.
“Traditional sexual relations are relations between a man and a woman,” one of the bill’s authors, Yelena Mizulina of the left-leaning, Kremlin-friendly A Just Russia party, told lawmakers.
“These relations need special protection from the government.”
UPDATE 10:20 AM EDT: As noted above, the bill passed as this story was published. The AP notes:
The bill still needs to be approved by the appointed upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, but neither step is in doubt.