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July 12, 2013

New Russian law bans any pro-gay speech

Three Dutch filmmakers have already been arrested

Moscow--The Russian government passed a law against pro-gay speech last month, which is now causing it to be increasingly targeted for criticism by the international community.

President Vladimir Putin has signed the measure into law.

The bill bans any form of speech that “promotes” homosexuality. Individuals providing information about the LGBT community or holding pride rallies can be fined up to $156, and organizations up to $31,000.

The International Olympics Committee said that it would “work to ensure” that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have no discrimination against LGBT athletes, but queer organizations are calling for boycotts of the games.

The International Olympic Committee released a statement to the Windy City Times LGBT newspaper, saying, “sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation. The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle.”

The law is unclear what it would consider pro-gay propaganda. Something as minor as declaring that one was gay could be interpreted as being in violation of the law.

According to blog Joe My God, the Russian LGBT Network was reporting that three Dutch tourists were arrested in Murmansk. The organization posted on their Facebook page on July 21, “Urgent news! In Murmansk city (North Russia) 3 Dutch citizens detained by the police on charges of gay-propaganda.”

A later report said that four people were arrested, but later released without charges. They were reportedly filming a documentary about the new anti-gay law. They had been to the Russian LGBT Network offices the previous week and interviewed the chairperson.

Police said minors were interviewed in the documentary, in violation of the law.

The Dutch consulate was notified of the arrests.

A hearing was scheduled for July 22, but it was delayed. No further information was available by press time.

Gay actor and writer Harvey Fierstein wrote a damning condemnation of Putin and the Russian law, pointing out another law that would allow police to detain foreign nationals they suspect of being LGBT, which he pointed to as a potential nightmare for the 2104 Winter Olympics. He also reported a rumored upcoming edict that would allow authorities to remove children from homes with gay parents.

“Why is Mr. Putin so determined to criminalize homosexuality? He has defended his actions by saying that the Russian birthrate is diminishing and that Russian families as a whole are in danger of decline,” Fierstein said in his New York Times op-ed. “That may be. But if that is truly his concern, he should be embracing gay and lesbian couples who, in my world, are breeding like proverbial bunnies. These days I rarely meet a gay couple who aren’t raising children.”

 “In 1936 the world attended the Olympics in Germany. Few participants said a word about Hitler’s campaign against the Jews,” he concluded. “Supporters of that decision point proudly to the triumph of Jesse Owens, while I point with dread to the Holocaust and world war. There is a price for tolerating intolerance.”















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