17:39 GMT +317 June 2019
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    Russia Lawmakers Back Fines for 'Gay Promotion'

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    The city legislature in the central Russian town of Kostroma approved a bill on Thursday which would see fines for the promotion of homosexuality.

    The city legislature in the central Russian town of Kostroma approved a bill on Thursday which would see fines for the promotion of homosexuality.

    The bill, pushed by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, was backed by 28 out of 35 deputies in Kostroma’s Duma.

    A similar ban is already in place in the southern Astrakhan and central Ryazan regions but was shelved in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second city, in November last year after MPs failed to agree on its "legal definitions."

    The legislation effectively outlaws any gay pride events.

    It also allows authorities to impose fines of up to 50,000 rubles ($1,600) for "public activities promoting homosexuality (sodomy and lesbianism), bisexualism and transgender identity" as well as pedophilia among minors.

    The promotion of "religious sects" is also punishable by fines.

    Five gay rights activists were detained after staging a protest in Kostroma in December.

    The authorities insist the ban is "aimed at preventing sex crimes against minors," but Igor Kochetkov, head of the St. Petersburg LGBT group Coming Out, said it "strongly resembled" 1930s Stalinist repression.

    "This legislation is aimed at diverting public discontent from real political problems. It’s disgraceful," Kochetkov told RIA Novosti. "The authorities are trying to attract the most backward sections of society over to their side."

    Homosexuality was illegal in the Soviet Union and was only decriminalized by President Boris Yeltsin in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment is still widespread.

    Kochetkov said rights groups planned to appeal the legislation.

    Campaigning journalist Yelena Kostyuchenko previously told RIA Novosti homosexuality was an "inborn quality" and could not be "promoted."

    "Homosexuality is not contagious," she said.

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