“We’ll not be silent and give up”: The Sphere Foundation Urges Deputies Not to Support the Bill on Tougher Penalties for LGBT+ Propaganda

Yesterday, on October 17th,  public hearings were held on bills on a complete ban on LGBT+ propaganda. The draft laws of deputies Khinstein and Ostanina, according to the assurances of deputies, will be submitted to the State Duma by the end of the week and considered in the first reading next Tuesday, October 25th.

In the summer of 2022, the deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation proposed as many as 3 bills toughening the punishment for LGBT + propaganda. The first one was rejected, so the remaining ones are now being considered.

Deputy Ostanina, together with others, proposed to edit the federal law “On Information,” supplementing it with bans on distribution: 1) information that denies family values; 2) propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations without specifying the age group.

The second bill currently under consideration suggests removing the mention of minors from Article 6.21 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation (currently existing on the prohibition of LGBT+ propaganda among minors), that is, prohibiting any LGBT+ propaganda. 
In addition, it is proposed to supplement the administrative Code with two articles: 1) prohibition of pedophilia propaganda; 2) prohibition of dissemination of information about non-traditional relationships and/or preferences among minors.

As part of the campaign against homophobic laws, the team of Sphere Foundation demands that deputies not support this bill. We call on all those who disagree with state homophobia to write appeals to deputies here.

According to the head of the advocacy and monitoring team of the Sphere, Alexander Belik, the goal of the “boom of initiatives against LGBT+” is to distract attention from the war and try to rally society around a common enemy:

To date, we have not seen the final version of the bills being introduced. Based on the previous information, it is clear that there will be two bills: one from Ostanina, the second from Khinstein. It is not clear whether Ostanina will introduce a new bill or add the received positive feedback from the Government to the existing one. The text of the Khinstein bill available today raises many questions, for example, how to distinguish between LGBT propaganda and demonstration of LGBT relations. Why “pedophilia” stands on a par with being LGBT and what kind of term it is, because  it was not used in this form nowhere before in the legislation, it mentioned “sexual intercourse and other sexual acts”. 

Belik believes that tougher responsibility for propaganda will not only increase fear within  the LGBT+ community, but also, in general, the Russian society will receive a distinct signal that “LGBT+ people are enemies”:

But this is not the first time such a signal has been given. And earlier, the LGBT community managed to survive, form organizations, build community centers and mutual assistance chats. The more you push LGBT people, the closer Stonewall is. We will not be silent and give up. We are well organized and know how to support each other. Write letters to deputies, sign a petition against propaganda laws.

New ban on LGBT+ propaganda means silencing anyone who does not speak negatively about LGBT+. We are afraid that access to any kind of information that even slightly hints at queer people will be blocked. Our favorite movies, books, music — everything can disappear. But the most important thing is that those few who dared to live freely in Russia will be at great risk of new persecution and fines.

The Sphere Foundation is leading a campaign to combat state homophobia. Our petitions on Change.org and All Out have already jointly gained almost 100,000 signatures.

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