Russian upper house approves 'anti-gay propaganda' bill
Russia's upper house of parliament on Wednesday passed a controversial bill banning the distribution of so-called "gay propaganda" to minors, which critics have said will be used to justify homophobic actions and arbitrary prosecution of gays.
Lawmakers in the Federation Council, the last stop before a bill is signed into law by the president, approved the measure 137 in favour to one abstention.
The law will "allow to ensure informational safety of minors from propaganda... that negatively impacts a child's character," said senator Lyudmila Bokova who introduced the bill and urged everyone to approve it. No debate followed.
Earlier in the day, they also approved a bill banning adoption of Russian orphans by gay couples abroad or even unmarried individuals in countries where same-sex unions are legal.
The lower chamber of the parliament already approved the "gay propaganda" bill in three readings with an overwhelming majority on June 11.
President Vladimir Putin has vowed to sign the bill and on Tuesday denied that it will violate anyone's rights, calling gays and lesbians "full members of our society."
"We are not talking about sanctions for homosexuality or for... you know what I mean," he said during a conference in Finland drawing cackles from the audience. "We are talking about protecting children from the respective information."
"We ask that (other countries) do not interfere in our regulation," he added.
Gay activists have blasted the bill as discriminatory, with some like opposition journalist Yelena Kostychenko who has organised LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) pickets calling it the "onset of fascism" in Russia.
The controversial measure bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors by Russians and foreigners as well as media organisations.
It makes it an offence to say that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual ones.
If individuals use media or Internet for such "propaganda" they can be fined up to 100,000 rubles ($3,000), while organisations can be fined up to one million rubles and can be shut down for up to 90 days.
The bill also targets foreigners and says foreign nationals who use media or the Internet for propaganda can be fined up to 100,000 rubles and can also be held in police cells for up to 15 days and be deported.
© 2013 AFP