Russian Interior Ministry Official: Our Anti-Gay Laws Aren't Tough Enough

A senior official is calling for jail time for “propaganda for nontraditional sexual relationships.”

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).

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ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - 2017/08/12: A participant hold a banner with the inscription 'Stop propaganda of violence' during the Gay Pride demonstration in Field of Mars. Several dozens of people came to Field of Mars in St. Petersburg for participation in VIII St. Petersburg LGBT Pride. (Photo by Igor Russak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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.)

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Gay rights activists march in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg May 1, 2013, during their rally against a controversial law in the city that activists see as violating the rights of gays. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)

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.”


An activist stands naked, wrapped in a rainbow flag, in a mock cage in front of the Chancellery in Berlin on April 30, 2017, during a demonstration calling on Russian President to put an end to the persecution of gay men in Chechnya. The protestors called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will meet Putin in Sochi on May 2, 2017, to raise the issue with him. / AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

The former Soviet Union seems to be gripped with an epidemic of anti-LGBT animus: Homosexual purges have been reported in Chechnya and Azerbaijan, while Tajikistan has instituted a mandatory registry of "proven homosexuals."

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