Russian lawmakers approve Bill banning LGBTQ 'propaganda'

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MOSCOW - Russian lawmakers unanimously approved a Bill banning all forms of LGBTQ “propaganda” in a final reading on Thursday, as Moscow presses ahead with its conservative drive at home while its troops fight in Ukraine.

Activists said the new legislation ramps up the crackdown on “non-traditional” sexual relationships in Russia, affecting everything from books and films to social media posts, and vowed to keep fighting for the rights of minorities.

President Vladimir Putin has sought to promote his country as the antithesis of Western liberal values and pushed an increasingly conservative agenda to rally his core constituency amid raging tensions with the world’s top democracies.

Moscow already has a law against “propaganda” directed at minors regarding LGBTQ relationships. The new Bill would broaden that rule to adults.

The legislation passed by the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on Thursday bars all mention of what authorities deem “gay propaganda” in media, cinema, books and advertisements.

It also prohibits “the propaganda of paedophilia and sex change”.

“Any propaganda of non-traditional relationships will have consequences,” the speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, said on social media.

He said the Bill “will protect our children and the future of our country from the darkness spread by the US and European states”.

The legislation will need to be backed by the upper house and Putin before becoming a law, steps seen as a formality.

The Bill introduces hefty fines of up to 10 million rubles (S$225,000) for people who ignore the new ban.

‘Absurd law’

Rights groups said the legislation will effectively ban all public promotion of LGBTQ rights in Russia and vowed to keep up the fight.

“We plan on protecting people from this absurd law,” said Ms Natalia Soloviova, the chairwoman of the Russian LGBT Net...

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