Anti-Gay Propaganda Law: Analysis and Outcomes

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Anti-Gay Propaganda Law: Analysis and Outcomes

“Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.” Said Albert Einstein. In Russia though, some laws censor the spirit of tolerance and therefore go against their primary goal. On the 29 of February of 2012, a law against “gay propaganda” has been adopted in second reading by a vote of 29 to 5 with one abstention and took effect 10 days after, after the final decision of governor Georgy Poltavchenko. We may refer to this law as “law against gay propaganda”, “anti-gay law”, “anti-gay bill” or more humouristically, “the gay-gag law”. The author, Vitaly Milonov, a deputy from the Russian political formation “United Russia” justifies the passation of the law by the attachment of the Russian people to traditionnal values, public morality and justification of protection of minors. He also declares that “the sin of sodom is repellent to him”.

In a country which opened little by little on individual freedoms since the collapse of the USSR (homosexuality was depenalised in 1993, and stopped being considered like a desease in 1999), a revival of conservatism is now noticeable. The law against gay propaganda that forbids any public act that promotes homosexuality is one demonstration of this political and social development among a country whose orthodox faith has become again a strong value within the population and the government in power. Although it is difficult to understand why such a law would be necessary when it is widely known that homosexuality is not a perversion and when many countries have adopted gay marriage, it is even harder to understand the basic meanings and implications of this law. How can we understand the wording “gay propaganda” and the consequences it might, or not, imply ? Who will suffer from this law and who will benefit from it ?

We shall develop those questions by analysing, on the first place, the wording of the law in order to be able to approach an understanding of its supposed consequences. We will then analyse the democratic and Human Rights implications hidden behind a law that fails many juridical tests. Eventually, a non-exhaustive lists of actions taken by LGBT associations and other institution will be presented.

I. Comprehending the law and its consequences.

This new amendment to the law of Saint Petersbourg on “Administrative Offenses” fails to clearly explain the implications of this law and how it can be applied. The broad and vague wording of both the articles 7.1 and 7.2 cause trouble to understand how such a law can or will be applied, and on what circumstances the accusations will be based.

A. Understanding the bill.

According to Human Rights Watch, "The bill's language is so vague and broad that it could lead to a ban on displaying a rainbow flag or wearing a T-shirt with a gay-friendly logo or even on holding LGBT-themed rallies in the city". The article 7.1 establishes that “Public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism amongst minors incur an administrative fine » and follows « As public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism amongst minors in this article should be understood activities on purposeful and uncontrolled dissemination of information in a publicly accessible in a way that can be harmful to the health, moral and spiritual development of minors, including forming in their mind a distorted perception of social equality of traditional and nontraditional marital relationships.».

Better definitions of the words used may be required to have a better understanding of the targetted purpose. Therefore, propaganda means « information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view. » This definition is then ecnouraged by...
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