Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning public expression of LGBTQ+ behavior or lifestyle, in a crackdown on supposed "LGBT propaganda."
The new law had passed the Russian Parliament with 397-0 votes on Nov. 24.
Under the new law, it's now illegal to promote "non-traditional sexual relations" across all platforms. "Praise" for LGBTQ+ relationships or suggestion that they're "normal" are also prohibited.
It expands on the 2013 law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” on minors. The existing law has already been used to stop gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists, Reuters reported.
Fines range up to 400,000 roubles (P369,000) for individuals and five million roubles (P4.6 million) for organizations. Foreigners, meanwhile, could face up to 15 days of arrest and expulsion from Russia.
The New York Times noted that the 2022 law doesn't specify what "propaganda" means, though the 2013 law says it's the form of “dissemination of information aimed at the formation of nontraditional sexual attitudes among minors." The 2013 law says imposition of information about these relationships “that arouses interest in such relations” amounts to propaganda, as well as the “distorted idea of the social equivalence of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations."
Human rights groups have condemned the bill.
Igor Kochetkov, the head of Russian LGBT Network, told The Guardian that the bill was an “absurd” government attempt to further discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community in their country. Kochetkov has left Russia recently.
“This law is part of an ongoing homophobic government campaign against LGBTQ+ rights,” Kochetkov is quoted as saying. “This is part of a broader attack on anything the government deems ‘western and progressive,'"
Aside from the law's vague wording, Kochetkov also pointed out that the situation of the LGBTQ+ community in Russia was "already very dire" even before the bill.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but homophobia and discrimination remained prevalent.
Russia is ranked 46th out of 49th European countries that are inclusive to LGBTQ+ communities, according to the region's ILGA-Europe.