Russian Government Passes Bill Banning Gay Propaganda; Germany, International Rights Organizations Condemn Measure

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Gay rights activists kiss during a protest against a proposed new law termed by the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, as "against advocating the rejection of traditional family values" in central Moscow June 11, 2013. Activists say the bill, backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin's allies in parliament, would prohibit all gay-rights rallies and fear it is fuelling violence against gays. Russian authorities say two recent murders were motivated by homophobia.

Russia’s lower house of parliament, State Duma, unanimously passed a new bill on Tuesday that stigmatizes gay relationships and bans providing information about homosexuality to minors.

The bill was passed 436-0 and now goes to the upper house, the Federal Council, where it has full support, the Wall Street Journal reported. The bill bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations," making it a crime to hold gay pride events, defend gay rights or equate it to heterosexual relationships.

International human rights groups have condemned this bill, the passing of which saw protests by gay rights activists.

"Russia is trying very hard to make discrimination look respectable by calling it 'tradition,' but whatever term is used in the bill, it remains discrimination and a violation of the basic human rights," Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch told the WSJ. "It is cynical, and it is dangerous."

The bill was also decried by Germany and its foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said such measures have no place in a modern and democratic society. "Foreign Minister Westerwelle is very worried about this law," his ministry said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

Foreigners found breaking this law will be deported from Russia besides being fined up to $3,000 or detained for about 15 days, Reuters reported.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but a recent poll cited by BBC shows that nearly half of Russians are not in favor of gays and lesbians enjoying the same rights as other citizens.

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