Target: Russian President Vladimir Putin
Goal: Don’t allow the stigmatization of homosexuality, prevention of sex education, and curtailment of free expression for gays
The Russian State Duma has passed a bill banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” creating large fines for providing information about homosexuality or participating in gay pride rallies. Even those peacefully protesting in favor of gay rights could be targeted with fines of 5,000 rubles, and foreigners could be deported for violating the new law. This is fresh on the heels of a recently passed law that will prohibit “offending religious sentiments” and will criminalize free speech; the anti-gay bill in question now awaits President Vladimir Putin’s signature.
Soon after the fall of the communist regime, the Kremlin removed a Soviet-era ban on homosexuality. In theory, that law had once meant years of prison time for being gay, although by the 1970s it was rarely, if ever, enforced. After twenty years of tenuously being afforded basic dignity and legal protection, Russian gays and lesbians are facing a drastic step backwards and have every reason to fear what anti-gay laws will come next. In case there is any question about the nature and intent of this law, a few gay rights protesters were violently attacked by a much larger force of anti-gay hooligans in Moscow as the bill was being passed (with one abstention) by legislators.
Going all the way back to Pyotr I Romanov, Russia has historically struggled between western influence and its traditional past. Today, even after the upheavals of the 20th century, the country is still undergoing that struggle as Russian Orthodox traditionalism runs up against western liberalism; the current form of that struggle is the question of gay rights. Please sign the petition below to condemn this bill and tell Vladimir Putin that the illiberal and inhumane proposal deserves his veto.
Dear President Vladimir Putin:
The Russian Duma has sent to your office a bill that would criminalize the proliferation of information about homosexuality and would even prohibit demonstrations in favor of gay rights. This is a drastic step backwards for your country’s civil liberties, free speech, and gay rights. Moreover, the law would indulge and encourage the most violent and ugly side of the budding reactionary movement in Russia; the bill has not even been passed into law, yet it already has brought about violence against gay rights protesters.
You have come under fire from your own people and from the international community for the nature of your governance of Russia. Signing this anti-gay bill would simply be another step in the wrong direction; for the gay and lesbian people of your country and for your own political legacy, I ask that you veto this bill.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: World Economic Forum via Flickr