March 13, 2012
A new law in Russia's second city, St. Petersburg, that imposes fines for spreading "gay propaganda" among minors should be implemented nationwide, an Orthodox Church official said on Monday, a day after the municipal legislation went into effect.
"The determination displayed by representatives of sexual minorities and their desire to continue rallying outside children's establishments indicate the timeliness of this regional law, which should, without delay, be given federal status, this, however, is the task for State Duma lawmakers," Hieromonk Dimitri Pershin, the Russian patriarch's representative on youth issues, said in a statement obtained by RIA Novosti.
Pershin's comments came after an alleged statement by gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev, who said LGBT groups would protest in front of kindergardens in response to the law.
Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida did not immediately return a request for comment.
Punishable by prison as a crime under Soviet rule, homosexuality was decriminalized under Boris Yeltsin in 1993, but generally remains an unpopular phenomenon in Russia.
The St. Petersburg law, which follows similar legislation in the southern Astrakhan region and the central Ryazan and Kostroma regions, imposes fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($170) for individuals and 500,000 rubles ($17,000) for companies for "public actions aimed at promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors." The legislation could also complicate efforts by gay activists to organize a Russian Gay Pride parade. Numerous attempts to hold gay rights protests in Moscow and elsewhere have been either vetoed by officials or hampered by riot police and right-wing groups, reports RIA Novosti.