Russian gays face banning law
MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia is considering introducing a law banning publicly promoting homosexuality -- just as the gay community is enjoying new found freedoms.
Just 10 years ago, Russia repealed the Soviet-era law criminalising homosexual relations with penalties of five years in prison.
Men, out for a night of dancing in Moscow gay clubs of today, could have been arrested -- and now they face a similar threat from the proposed new law.
Moscow has not yet had a gay-pride parade yet -- the city mayor calls it "propaganda of dissipation" -- but one major city, Yekaterinburg, has had two parades.
And Russian gays are "out" on the Internet with a Web site "gay.ru"
But enough is enough, say some Russian lawmakers, who believe that when it comes to moral values. anything goes in today's Russia.
They want to bring back the old Soviet law that made public displays of homosexuality a crime.
Vadim Bulavinov, a member of Russian Parliament, told CNN: "I think it's a perversion but unfortunately, recently in Russia, especially among young people and the media, they are promoting it, saying it's part of Western values."
At a private gay party in St. Petersburg, Sergei, a sales manager, thinks the lawmakers just want publicity but he's still worried.
"It's like a return to a crazy source of inhumanity that used to exist. It's insane. It can't pass. No way," he said.
His partner, Anton, a student, added: "I think I was born this way. And if there's a law against people like me I'll be the scum of society. I'm a free person living in a free country and I can do what I want to do."
Lesbians in St. Petersburg, part of a Russian delegation heading for a gay pride parade in Amsterdam, say the law is even more threatening for them.
Female homosexuality was never against the law but some lesbians in the past were committed to mental hospitals.
Marina, a theatrical director, said: "Realistically, if Russia wants to become part of the European Union, they'll never allow us in if we have laws like this."
The issue of homosexuality is out of the closet in Russia....debated publicly in the media.
Sasha Sotnikova, of the Labris Lesbian Organisation, says Russia is still a very traditional country....but things are beginning to change.
"I think our country is making little, little steps to freedom, every month, every day. And when the person or people or the community are used to opening the mind, it is very hard to close it again."
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