Friday, February 10, 2012

St. Petersburg, Russia Enacts Gay Gag Order

Next time you're in St. Petersburg, Russia, make sure you don't mention what a fabulous haircut your friend Ernesto just got or how pretty your neighbor Gabby's roses are. The municipality has outlawed any and all behavior that promotes gay lifestyles around kids. The ruling also, of course, makes Gay Pride parades illegal.

That means it's now against the law in Russia's second-largest city to say anything about homosexuality or bisexuality around minors in anything but an insulting demeanor. Good luck with that one.

Individuals will be fined 5,000 rubles ($168) for violating the ban while legal entities can be charged 500,000 rubles ($16,800). The RT network claims the law is intended to prevent people from “spreading information that can damage the health and moral development of underage children, and make them believe that both traditional and gay relationships are normal.”

Already, noted Russian activist Nikolai Alekseev, who referred to St. Petersburg's bill as "medieval barbarity" in an impassioned Op-Ed piece in The Guardian last December, has been fined by authorities under the region’s rules.

Male homosexual relationships were a crime in Russia until 1993. In 1999, the Health and Social Development Ministry dropped homosexuality from the federal list of officially recognized illnesses. But most of the populace remains vehemently anti-gay, and politicians and rights groups remain reluctant to stand up for LGBT rights for fear of their own reputations. *