The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s Parliament, gave preliminary but overwhelming approval on Friday to legislation that would ban LGBT events or public discussion of LGBT issues that might be accessible to minors. And the United States government quickly questioned the decision.
"We are deeply concerned by this draft legislation," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, according to the AFP. "You know how strongly we feel about LGBT rights around the world, how strongly the secretary of state personally feels that nobody should be discriminated against for who they love."
The so-called gay propaganda bill is a national version of one that has already been adopted by the city of St. Petersburg. Members of the State Duma voted 388 to 1 in favor of the bill, with one abstention, the Associated Press reports. The legislation must go through two more approvals and be signed by President Vladimir Putin in order to become law. Language in the bill denounces “mass media and public events that propagate homosexuality as normal behavior” and says minors cannot think critically and objectively about such information.
Activists for and against the bill demonstrated outside the State Duma’s headquarters in Moscow, the AP reports. Orthodox Christian protesters, who favor the legislation, pelted LGBT rights advocates with eggs. Nonetheless, when police intervened, most of the roughly 20 demonstrators they detained were from the LGBT group.
The Russian Orthodox Church and many national leaders have endorsed the legislation. Antigay sentiments are prevalent in Russia, the AP notes, reporting that “an executive with a government-run television network said in a nationally televised talk show that gays should be prohibited from donating blood, sperm and organs for transplants, and that their hearts should be burned or buried after death.”