A senior official in Russia's Ministry of the Interior is calling for stricter laws against LGBT people, claiming the current ban on gay propaganda isn't tough enough.
The law, passed unanimously by Parliament in 2013, prohibits “propaganda for nontraditional sexual relationships” being disseminated to children. In reality, it's used to suppress any public discussion of LGBT rights, displays of Pride symbols, or even affection between members of the same sex.
Violators of the law—which was declared illegal by the European Court of Human Rights in June—face fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($8,000).
But that's not enough for Sergei Alabin, the deputy head of the ministry’s anti-sex-crime unit. He wants to make it a criminal offense, punishable with jail time.
“A question on the matter of propaganda for pedophilia and homosexuality has been raised,” Alabin said in meeting on preventing child sex abuse.“Today administrative consequences exist for this but they are not very effective, as the fines are anticipated. If we were to raise this, for example, to the rank of criminal offense, then I hope we will protect our offspring."
Children, Alabin insists, "should not grow up leaning towards pedophilia, non-traditional relations and so forth."
Homosexuality is technically legal in Russia, but LGBT citizens face discrimination, harassment and even violence. In August, skinheads attacked participants at St. Petersburg Pride with pepper spray . (A Pew Research survey found that 72% of Russians believe homosexuality is morally unacceptable—more so that adultery or gambling.)
In January, the Russian Duma held an initial reading of a law that would jail people for public displays "of non-heterosexual orientation or gender identity."
The measure calls for fines of between 4,000 and 5,000 rubles ($53-$66) for “the public expression of non-traditional sexual relations, manifested in a public demonstration of personal perverted sexual preferences in public places.”
Should such displays on school grounds or near other institutions provided services to youths, offenders could face up to 15 days of administrative arrest, Human Rights Watch reports.