MOSCOW, June 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will not abandon plans to enact a law banning homosexual "propaganda," despite concerns raised by the German chancellor, a senior Russian lawmaker said Wednesday.
Angela Merkel has condemned the controversial “anti-gay” bill that was approved by Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on Tuesday, with only one of the 436 lawmakers present abstaining and no votes against.
“This call will not be heard. A heated conflict of values is coming,” Alexei Pushkov, head of the Duma's international affairs committee, said on Twitter.
The bill seeks to ban the “the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships,” making such acts punishable by a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($30,000).
The first draft of the bill, passed by the State Duma on January 25, used the term “homosexuality” but this was replaced by the term “non-traditional sexual relationships,” in the final version.
To become law the bill must now be passed by the Federation Council – Russia’s upper house of parliament – and signed by President Vladimir Putin. Both steps are likely to be mere formalities.
The legislation has been condemned by human rights groups, which fear that its vague wording will allow law enforcement authorities to target the LGBT community.
Some 300 people gathered for unauthorized protests against the bill outside the State Duma on Tuesday. About 20 protesters were later detained by police. Gay rights demonstrators reportedly scuffled with Russian Orthodox activists, who came to protest against another bill that would make insulting religious believers’ feelings a criminal offense. The bill was also approved by the State Duma on Tuesday.
The US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said on Wednesday he is concerned by Russia’s move closer to the passing the controversial legislation. “Discrimination and intolerance contradict a democratic society spirit,” he said on Twitter in Russian.
Updated at 23.40 with McFaul's quote.