US protests anti-gay bill in Russia
The United States denounced Wednesday a Russian bill imposing fines for the promotion of gay "propaganda" among young people in the city of Saint Petersburg.
"Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights," the State Department said, repeating a declaration by top US diplomat Hillary Clinton.
"We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens."
In its statement, the State Department said it was "deeply concerned" by the bill proposed by the United Russia faction. The text passed in its first reading last week in the city's parliament and would need to pass in two further readings to become law.
Under the bill, anyone who committed "public acts" promoting homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender identity to minors could pay up to 3,000 rubles ($97.50), while an organization could pay 10,000 to 50,000 rubles.
The bill gave no definition of a public act, with activists saying it could be used to crack down on gay pride events, which are regularly banned in Russia.
It also imposes the same fines for promoting pedophilia, tacitly equating it with homosexuality, which was decriminalized in Russia in 1993 under the presidency of Boris Yeltsin.
"The United States places great importance on combating discrimination against the LGBT community and all minority groups," the State Department said.
© 2011 AFP