'Absurd': Russian MPs back law banning LGBTQ 'propaganda'

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, May 1, 2013.   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

Russia's State Duma -- the lower house of the Russian parliament -- approved a controversial new law on Thursday banning LGBTQ "propaganda" to adults.

The new bill bans any advertising, media, books, films, or theatre productions that are deemed to promote homosexuality, and also prevents any citizen from providing information to children about paedophilia and gender transitions.

The measure significantly harshens repression of the LGBT community in Russia, broadening the country's previous legislation, introduced in 2013, banning LGBT "propaganda" among children and young people under the age of 18. 

The sharing of material pertinent to LGBT rights, non-heterosexual sexuality and gender identity will now be punishable with fines of up to 400,000 rubles (€6,400) or up to 5 million rubles (€80,000) for legal entities. Foreign citizens violating the law will be expelled from the country. 

The text is likely to be passed by the upper house of Russia's parliament -- the Council of the Federation -- and signed off by President Vladimir Putin. 

The new anti-LGBT law "will protect our children and the future of this country against the darkness spread by the United States and European countries," Volodin said on Thursday.

"We have our own traditions and values," he told lawmakers on Thursday.

But human rights advocates have voiced concern that the bill will increase censorship and homophobia in Russia and push the LGBT community underground. 

The LGBT Network has called the legislation an "absurd" attempt to humiliate and discriminate against the LGBT community.

The law was approved at its third reading at the Duma on Thursday and will now go to the upper house of parliament for approval and then to Putin.

Many among Russia's LGBT community are estimated to have fled the country since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, both in protest and in fear of being mobilised into the Russian army.