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Russia lower house supports ban on promotion of homosexuality

The Russian State Duma [official website, in Russian] on Friday approved the first reading of a bill that would ban the promotion of homosexuality among children. The bill, if passed, would likely ban any event in Russia that promotes gay rights [BBC report]. The bill would also impose stiff fines on individuals who "promote homosexuality among minors," although it does not define what this phrase means. Individuals who violate the bill would face fines of up to 5,000 rubles (USD $166), and government officials would be forced to pay up to 50,000 rubles. In order to become law, the bill must face two more readings and then be passed by the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament. The bill would then have to be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin [official websites, in Russian].

In September the Supreme Court of Russia [official website, in Russian] upheld [JURIST report] the Arkhangelsk region's ban on "gay propaganda" but ruled that gay pride parades and other demonstrations in support of gay rights are legal. In August LGBT activists brought suit over the Russian Justice Ministry's refusal to register Pride House [JURIST report] for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Also that month Russia's best-known gay rights activist Nikolay Alexeyev lost a court challenge [JURIST report] to Moscow's 100-year municipal ban on gay pride marches. He intends to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which has already ordered Russia to pay Alexeyev [JURIST report] an award of €12,000 for non-pecuniary damages plus €17,510 for costs and attorneys fees (USD $41,090 total) for rejecting his license application for a gay pride gathering. In March St. Petersburg announced that the city's governor had signed into law a bill that would impose fines against people convicted of promoting homosexuality, including gays or lesbians who are open about their sexuality. Individuals convicted under the law would be subject to fines between 3,000 and 5,000 rubles (USD $100-160) [Moscow Times report], while organizations could be fined up to 50,000 rubles for "promoting" homosexuality.

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