Timothy I. Ginter
The Russian Mizulina Law, popularly known as the Gay Propaganda Law, was passed in 2013 by the State Duma – an equivalent of the parliament. Officially speaking, this law’s purpose is to shield children from anything that contravenes traditional family values: it aims to inhibit children from being exposed to information or experiences that would indicate homosexuality as a norm in society. This ban includes content provided by things such as the internet, radio and television. Under this law, people who are convicted guilty of encouraging or facilitating non-traditional sexual behaviour among minors can be fined up to ₽5,000 (RUB), which is around €60 (EUR). Organizations who are convicted of this crime can face up to a ₽1,000,000 ( €12,000) fine.
But in reality, the Mizulina Law’s aim is to put obstacles to the legal recognition of “non-traditional” relationships in Russia.
Why is this significant?
The Mizulina Law has been constantly cited as an example of institutionalized sexual prejudice. It violates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court has defined this law as being discriminatory. In 2017, Russia was also condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for violating articles 10 (Freedom of expression) and 14 (Discrimination) of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).
But the Russian legislation has demonstrated to Russian citizens that there is no space for queer discourse within the law of the nation. While this law does not ban homosexuality or acts of homosexuality, it does condemn any affirmatory mentioning of it. This legislation seeks to make queer visibility a criminal offense. It has been used to shut down websites and information sources that provide young Russians with content about homosexuality. It has also allowed for the blocking of LGBTQIA+ support groups from engaging with the youth.
What is happening now?
Hostile behaviour towards LGBTQIA+ members in Russia is not a new phenomenon. However, this law has led to an increase in violence perpetrated against members of the LGBTQIA+ community. There have been numerous incidents of beatings and humiliation in Russia, but those numbers have only gone up since the ratification of this law. LGBTQIA+ Russians describe great angst when it comes to disclosing their sexuality with other people, something that has been intensified since the passing of this bill. Since 2013, hostility and aggression towards LGBTQIA+ people has increased tremendously as this law has facilitated adverse feelings towards them. This heterosexist legislation has only made it tougher for LBGTQIA+ Russians, who were already victims of social discrimination. By adopting this bill, the Russian government has encouraged homophobia and hatred towards members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In order to decrease the hostility towards Russians who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the Russian government must repeal the Gay Propaganda Law: Russia should be acting in the interest of all of its citizens, and this is why it must stop practicing this law further and cease making laws that could potentially intensify hostile attitudes towards any community, including the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Placing importance on traditional values is compatible with having the state benefitting from placing more importance on the well-being and safety of all Russian citizens, whatever their orientations would be.
Timothy I. Ginter is a student of Political Science and International Relations at Saint Louis University – Madrid Campus.
To quote this article, please use the following reference: T. Ginter (2022), “The implications of the Russian Gay Propaganda Law” https://crisesobservatory.es/The implications of the Russian Gay Propaganda Law/
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