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February 27, 2014

Spread of Russian-Style Anti-Propaganda Laws

We saw what Putin can do to LGBT Russians while the international media was camped in Sochi covering the XXII Winter Olympiad.  What kind of crackdown might happen when it’s all over?      

Additionally, as the world watches what will transpire domestically, the international LGBT community waits to see if Russia’s brand of discriminatory legislation will take root elsewhere. The flagship piece of that legislation, the federal law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” may soon be Russia’s number one export. Since the propaganda law went into effect, in June, 2013, legislators from Eastern Europe to Central Asia have begun to emulate the Russian Duma by introducing nearly identical versions of the law to their legislative bodies. 

Updated June 17, 2014

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Armenia

In August 2013, Armenian authorities briefly introduced a law aimed at protecting Armenian family values from public promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships.” If passed, the law would have introduced fines of $4,000.00 against violators. Mere days after the introduction, officials removed the bill from consideration, insisting that international pressure played no part in its removal, and that it was shelved solely for its shortcomings.

Belarus

In July 2013, the Belarusian parliament proposed a gay propaganda law in the name of protecting traditional family values. The Liberal Democratic Party claimed that “under the guise of protecting the rights of sexual minorities, is the promotion and advocacy of homosexuality, especially among minors, [and] thus [is] destroying the family and public morality.”

The law is planned to be introduced into the National Assembly in late 2014.

Georgia

In May 2013, during a pride rally in downtown Tbilisi, thousands of supporters of the Georgian Orthodox Church attacked the several dozen participating members of the Georgian LGBT community. Head of the Church, Ilia II, who is widely perceived as the most powerful religious, cultural, and political figure in the country, said in the aftermath, "We don't approve of violence, but propaganda of this (homosexuality) must not be allowed. It is a sin.” Zviad Dzidziguri, the Vice Speaker of Parliament, echoed Ilia II’s sentiment: "My view is that everyone has the right to privacy, but one cannot simply demonstrate [one's sexual orientation] ... I have children and the rights of the majority are seriously violated when they come out and start to demonstrate that they are Gays." The European Union has reported that a Russian-style “propaganda” law has been introduced.

Kazakhstan

Anti-homosexual rhetoric is increasing among lawmakers, but proposed anti-LGBT laws have received negligible traction and do not seem to have strong support from President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Thus far a Kazakhstan version of the anti-”propaganda” law has not been formally introduced, but a request to do so is moving forward. In September 2013, member of Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament, Aldan Smaiyl, filed a petition to ban so-called gay propaganda, saying, “I asked to ban gay clubs, demonstrations and any and all of these disgusting relations.”

Latvia

In November 2013, Latvia’s Central Election Commission allowed anti-LGBT groups to begin collecting signatures for a referendum introducing a measure banning gay propaganda. The proponents of the referendum need to collect 30,000 signatures by this coming November to move forward in the legal process.

Lithuania

In March, 2014 the Lithuanian Parliament deliberated upon amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations that would levy harsh fines against participants in public acts that violate the constitutionally established value of family. The amendment would give teeth to a 2010 law on protection of minors against detrimental effects of public information, providing punitive guidelines to be used against individuals and organizations. Posters, placards, slogans, lyrics, and public speeches fall under the vaguely-worded bill.

Moldova

In June, 2013, Moldovan lawmakers passed a bill banning the promotion of “relationships other than those linked to marriage and the family.” Only four months later the clause was removed, despite strong objections from the Orthodox Church and officials in Moscow. The removal was likely due to a desire on the part of leadership to gain membership in the European Union. Some municipal laws, however, are still in effect.

Ukraine

Submitted on June 20th, 2011 Draft Federal Law No. 0945, Regarding Protection of Children’s Rights in the Safe Information Sphere, (Previously No. 8711) proposed to ban the promotion of homosexuality in media. Shelved for a time, the bill is rumored to be under consideration again.

Additionally, Draft Law No.1155 entitled “On the Prohibition of Propaganda of Homosexuality Aimed at Children” may be up for consideration soon. The law would ban any information that "can do harm to physical and psychological health, moral and spiritual development of the child, as well as form misconceptions about the social equivalence of conventional and unconventional sexual relationships, and in the future to influence their choice of sexual orientation." The law expands on Draft Law No. 0945 to include public demonstrations and public actions. If made into law, the bill would levy fines against first time offenders and mandate jail terms for repeat offenses.