On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that bans public displays of LGBTQ+ content and behavior, expanding the country’s 2013 “gay propaganda” law.
The original law banned the display or distribution of LGBTQ+ content for minors. The new law expands these restrictions, effectively banning LGBTQ+ content for anyone regardless of age in the public realm.
Before being signed into law by President Putin, the bill had passed through multiple rounds of voting in Russia’s parliament in October and November of this year. Individuals and entities could be fined thousands of dollars for violating the law.
The law comes as Russian authorities enact stricter measures against dissent at home as the war in Ukraine continues. Putin and conservatives in his government have frequently been on the defensive regarding LGBTQ+ rights, which they claim are being imposed on Russia by the West. In contrast, they have promoted Russia as a bulwark protecting more traditional values.
LGBTQ+ and human rights advocates argue that the expansion of the bill is a means to effectively erase sexual minorities from public life.
“The 2013 ‘gay propaganda’ law was an unabashed example of political homophobia, and the new draft legislation amplifies that in broader and harsher ways,” said Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, in a statement quoted by CNN.
The new law was signed just days after another law went into effect, this one expanding the definition of “foreign agent.” Under this new law, any organization, group, or individual deemed to be “under foreign influence” can be labeled as a foreign agent, and face banishment from civic participation and public life.