Dispatches: Jail Time for Being Gay in Russia

On Jan 14, 2016 Human Rights Watch reported: Russia is again making media headlines for all the wrong reasons. On January 19, parliament will hold the first reading of another abusive homophobic law, which proposes jailing people for public displays of non-heterosexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill was first introduced in October 2015 by two Communist Party members, Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev. It proposes fines of between four and five thousand rubles (US$53-$66) for “the public expression of non-traditional sexual relations, manifested in a public demonstration of personal perverted sexual preferences in public places.” If such public displays occur “on territories and in institutions, providing educational, cultural or youth services,” the offender could face an additional penalty of up to 15 days of administrative arrest.

It is hard to exaggerate the sinister absurdity and abusive intent of this bill – it would effectively outlaw being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) and penalize people for expressing their identity, a crucial part of anyone’s existence. If passed, it will put President Vladimir Putin in an uncomfortable situation. Talking about Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law a few weeks before Russia hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Putin insisted that Russia was a safe country for LGBT people: “We don’t ban anything, we don’t grab people, we don’t have any [criminal or administrative] responsibility for these type of relations, unlike many other countries […].”

But the new bill proposes to do just that: send people to jail for kissing, holding hands, or simply for public behavior that authorities consider non-gender-conforming. Such legislation would further escalate the rabid homophobia and transphobia in Russia, putting LGBT Russians at further risk of violence and discrimination.

 

 

More at Dispatches: Jail Time for Being Gay in Russia | Human Rights Watch.

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