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Citys Anti-Gay Law to Be Abolished

Published: June 25, 2014 (Issue # 1817)



  • Anti-gay lawmaker Vitaly Milonov and his supporters protest against an LGBT rights rally on the Field of Mars in 2013.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

St. Petersburgs infamous anti-gay law has been abolished by the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly in a second reading of amendments during a council session on June 18. The amendments were initiated by the Legislative Assemblys United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov, who had originally introduced the law in 2011.

According to Milonov, the local law prohibiting the promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bi-sexuality and transgenderism to minors, became redundant after a similar national law came into force in June 2013. However, Milonov, who chairs the Legislative Assemblys committee on legislation, said he would now work on amendments to the Russian Criminal Code to criminalize the alleged offense.

Despite domestic and international criticism and protests for being anti-constitutional and violating Russias international obligations, the citys anti-gay law came into effect on Mar. 17, 2012 after passing three readings at the Legislative Assembly and finally signed by St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko.

The more vaguely termed national law, prohibiting the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations, was proposed to the State Duma on Mar. 28, 2012, soon after the controversial presidential election that year, which was marked by mass protests, and came into force on June 30, 2013 after being signed by Vladimir Putin, who had returned to the presidency.

In over two years since Milonovs initiative had become a law, the only person punished by court for alleged gay propaganda has been Moscow-based LGBT activist Nikolai Alexeyev, who was detained outside the city administration during his one-man protest on Apr. 12, 2012. A St. Petersburg court imposed a fine of 5,000 rubles ($145) on Alexeyev for his sign saying Homosexuality is not a perversion. Hockey on grass and ballet on ice are, a quote from the famous Russian and Soviet actress Faina Ranevskaya.

Alexeyev, the organizer of the Moscow Gay Pride Rally who won a lawsuit against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2010 over 164 bans on LGBT rallies issued by the Moscow administration, filed lawsuits against the law with the St. Petersburg Statutory Court for violating the City Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically Article 10, Freedom of expression, and Article 14, Prohibition of discrimination. Russia is a signatory member of the convention.

In a statement on June 18, Alexeyev said that Milonov backed down because he feared expected rulings against the law. Milonov apparently got scared and decided not to wait for a humiliating verdict of the European Court of Human Rights, where his law will obviously have a fiasco, he said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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