Discrimination in Russia: Arrests for Violation of St. Petersburg Anti-Gay Law
In St. Petersburg, Russia, two men were arrested on Thursday for holding up a sign reading "Homosexuality Is Normal." It marks the first arrests on the strength of the city's new law against disseminating information on homosexuality.
For the first time, police in St. Petersburg, Russia, have made arrests on the strength of a new law banning the dissemination of information on homo-, bi- and transsexuality. Two men were arrested in the city center on Thursday after holding up a sign reading "Homosexuality Is Normal," according to the newswire Interfax.
The law bans films, music videos, books and newspapers that contain homosexual content as well as the rainbow flag, which is a common symbol of gay pride. And the ban may soon no longer be limited to just St. Petersburg and other cities in Russia. At the end of March, Vladimir Putin's United Russia party introduced a bill in the country's parliament, the Duma, which would impose the ban at the national level.
"We are trying to protect our society from homosexual propaganda," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Russian radio three weeks ago.
'Path to the Dark Ages'
Homophobia remains widespread in Russia, and it is an open secret in the country that many public figures have sought to hide their sexual preferences by entering into marriages of convenience. The Russian Orthodox Church views homosexuality as a sin, and it was only in 1999 that homosexuality was stricken from the list of mental illnesses in the country.
Vitaly Milonov, the United Russia politician who is one of the initiators of the proposal for a nationwide ban in the Duma, accused the German band Rammstein of "gay propaganda" earlier this spring. He also warned the American singer Madonna against transgressing the law at a planned summer concert. Madonna, for her part, has said she plans on defying it.
cgh -- with wire reports
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