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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Putin signs law banning expressions of LGBTQ identity in public

Authorities blocking a L.G.B.T.Q. rally in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 2019.

By Emma Bubola

Russian President Vladimir Putin intensified his crackdown on LGBTQ people on Monday, when he signed new legislation that widely bans public expression of their identity in the country.

The new law makes it illegal to spread “propaganda” about “nontraditional sexual relations” in the media, in advertising, in movies or on social media. It had passed the Duma, Russia’s parliament, by a vote of 397-0 on Nov. 24.

Demonstrations of “nontraditional relationships or preferences” will also be completely barred from advertising, and from any outlet visible to minors. Distributing to minors any information “that causes children to want to change their sex” was also prohibited.

The law is likely to put another strain on a community that has already been largely stigmatized in a country where officials have cast the repression of LGBTQ expression as part of a wider struggle to protect Russia from Western interference.

Putin has long cast LGBTQ life as a Western intrusion into Russia’s traditional society and values, and proponents of the new law recently likened the fight against LGBTQ expression to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, which they see as a broader civilization clash between them and the West.

“We have our own way of development. We do not need European imposition of nontraditional relations,” Nina Ostanina, chair of the committee on family, women and children, said during parliamentary hearings on the legislation.

Russia has banned “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” among minors since 2013, with steep fines or suspension of business activities for Russians, and expulsion from the country for foreigners who were found guilty. The new law extends the ban on such propaganda to all adults.

Since 2013, just over 100 cases ended up in court, according to an analysis by a Russian lawyer, Maksim Olenichev, but experts said its biggest impact was casting the community as inappropriate, making it more invisible and subject to abuses. The new law is likely to push the LGBTQ community further underground, its opponents said.

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