Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday signed an amended “LGBT propaganda” bill into law. The amendments significantly expand the scope of the previous legislation. Last week, the amended legislation passed unanimously in the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, and it faced no opposition in the Federal Council, the upper house.
The law, originally passed in 2013 and styled as ‘For the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating a Denial of Traditional Family Values,” laid out harsh penalties for individuals and companies found guilty of disseminating LGBT information to children. The enacted amendments will now prohibit all positive displays of LGBT relationships and lifestyles for all age groups. Roskomnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, has been tasked with monitoring and removing material deemed offensive to Russian family values. Any mention of gender affirming surgery, same-sex marriage or non-heterosexual intimacy will be censored.
The escalation in anti-LGBT laws in Russia has alarmed its European neighbors. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the 2013 propaganda law discriminatory and anti-scientific. Russia vacated its seat on the court in March. The UN Human Rights Council has also expressed concerns of how the law affects basic human rights and the further isolation of Russia from international norms.
The amended law coincides with a dramatic increase in censorship across all aspects of Russian life. The war in Ukraine has driven a political narrative uniting Russia under traditional values while rejecting Western propaganda. LGBT individuals and organizations within Russia are often labeled as “foreign agents” working to undermine national values.