In a total ‘screw you’ to progress, Vladimir Putin has signed an unspecific bill into law, punishing people for“homosexual propaganda” which could include holding hands in public, or a fondness of rainbows.
The law could see tourists being jailed for up to two weeks for anything that is deemed to be pro-gay. LGBT organisations have expressed concerns for members of the LGBT community who will be taking part as fans or athletes at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next February. Russian-speaking RUSA LGBT, an association for members of the gay community have called for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics in light of the anti-gay laws, citing fears that the athletes and spectators will not be safe. Other activists have demanded that cities like Paris, LA and Quebec remove their twinning with Russian cities in protest of the law. Lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall will continue working with the foreign office and activists to promote equality.
In an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti, RUSA LGBT co-president Nina Long stated, “LGBT people in Russia are scared, they live in fear, and we want people to be aware of the issue. If they feel strongly about human rights they should boycott the Olympics in Sochi. We really want the LGBT community to know it’s unsafe to travel there.”
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The Duma passed the bill in June with 436 votes to 0 (only one representative abstained) before being signed into legality by President Putin and moving Russia even further backwards in terms of equal rights. The anti-gay law carries steep fines for promoting homosexuality and as well as being arrested, jailed for up to 15 days and deported you can also be fined over £2,000.
eTurboNews points out that “It is now literally illegal in Russia to say that you are gay. It is illegal to kiss your partner in public – say, after you win a gold medal. It is illegal for a gay athlete to wear the rainbow flag. Or even to acknowledge during an interview that they are gay – or for the foreign press to acknowledge it – unless they mention that gay sexual orientation in a negative way.”
So, if you’re travelling to Russia leave the rainbow socks at home, try not to look too gay and definitely don’t make the mistake of holding hands with your partner if they have the same bits as you.