Russia must ban 'disgusting' gay propaganda: deputy PM
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak on Friday backed a controversial regional bill proposed by the ruling United Russia party to issue fines for "propaganda of homosexuality."
Speaking in Saint Petersburg, where city lawmakers have backed the bill in its first reading, Kozak said he supported the bid to introduce fines for "disgusting activity," the Interfax news agency reported.
The bill proposed by United Russia would introduce fines of up to 50,000 rubles ($1,625) for "public acts aimed at promoting homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgender identity to minors."
The deputy prime minister, a close ally of premier Vladimir Putin, spoke alongside the regional governor, Georgy Poltavchenko, who said the bill would "benefit public morality," Interfax reported.
Kozak went even further, suggesting the bill should be considered for inclusion in national legislation.
"We should think about this topic on the federal level," he said at a news conference.
Kozak's strong support comes after a crucial second reading of the bill, expected this week, was postponed until after Sunday's elections for the national parliament, which United Russia is expected to win.
"Now Kozak and Poltavchenko have backed the bill on propaganda of homosexuality, even at a federal level. It really looks as if they're going to pass it," prominent gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev wrote on Twitter.
Gay campaigners said that while the bill is nominally aimed at protecting minors, its vague wording could be effectively used to suppress any rights protests that could be seen by children.
Controversially, the bill also introduces the same fines for promoting paedophilia, a crime, apparently equating it with homosexuality, which was decriminalised in Russia in 1993.
The United States' State Department last week said it was "deeply concerned" at the bill, only for the Russian Foreign Ministry to criticise it for "interfering, what's more publicly, in the Russian legal process"
Russian officials often make homophobic statements, most notoriously the ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, who consistently refused to sanction gay pride events, which he called "satanic."
© 2011 AFP