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Russia's 'Gay Propaganda' Law One Year On

Published: June 30, 2014 (Issue # 1817)



  • Gay activists being arrested on Mars Field in 2013.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

In the year that has passed since Russia adopted a law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors," the country's LGBT community has witnessed the erosion of its rights and freedoms, human rights activists said.

Since President Vladimir Putin approved the so-called "gay propaganda" law on June 29, 2013, only four individuals have been fined for violating it, according to Tanya Lokshina, program director and senior researcher at Human Rights Watch Russia. But, Lokshina added, the rarity of the law's formal enforcement inadequately reflects its broader consequences for Russia's LGBT community.

"Only a few people were fined throughout the year and this might not seem to be much of a problem," Lokshina said. "But the fines are not what this law is about. This law is not only contrary to Russia's international obligations but has also contributed to anti-gay violence and to creating a hostile environment for LGBT people in the country. It has contributed to stigmatizing LGBT individuals as unnatural, perverse and as acceptable targets."

Putin has distanced himself from the issue of LGBT rights in the country. In January, he said that he was "not prejudiced in any way" and that he even had gay friends. He has also said publicly that gays face no discrimination in Russia.

Since the adoption of the country's "gay propaganda" law, Human Rights Watch has observed an increase in violent attacks carried out against LGBT people in Russia.

U.S. advocacy group Human Rights Campaign reported that at least two men were killed because of their sexual orientation in Russia in the summer of 2013 alone and that others had been assaulted, pelted with eggs and blinded in air gun attacks in the past year.

The level of homophobia in the country had "greatly worsened" since the adoption of the law, Elena Volkova, an LGBT rights activist, told The St. Petersburg Times.

"The law has not only made things worse for the LGBT community, it has also coincided with an increase in the number of attacks against gays — real attacks with real deaths," she said. "It is clear this law was conceived to foment homophobia in Russian society."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of “Treasure Island,” visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russia’s “Russian Knights” stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during today’s Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the center’s Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonight’s performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Center’s Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodina’s website for more details.



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