Russian lawmakers call for toughening a 2013 anti-gay propaganda law which the war in Ukraine has given “new relevance” according to state officials.
The Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, convened Monday to discuss changes to the 2013 law, Agence France Presse (AFP) reports (as published through Barron’s). Further reporting by the news agency says that the law, which currently prohibits the exposure of LGBTQ+ material to minors, could be expanded to further ban the “denial of family values” and the “promotion of non-traditional sexual orientations” more broadly.
A senior lawmaker and member of Duma, Alexander Khinstein, connected the law’s expansion to the conflict in Ukraine, a “special operation” which, he said, “takes place not only on the battlefield but also in the minds and souls of the people,” the AFP reports.
The discussion coincides with another initiative, announced by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, to fund educational programs which “[aim] at the patriotic and spiritual education of children and youth,” according to the AFP.
Anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes in Russia have led Ukrainian activists to fear that the government could impose similar restrictions in Ukraine should it occupy the country. At the start of the invasion, which occurred in February, the U.S. government received information that the Kremlin had a “hit list” of activists and other human rights organizers to be killed or rounded up for internment in camps.
In a sermon delivered in early March, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow claimed that the Russian invasion was in part necessary because of Pride events in Ukraine – echoing claims made by conservative factions within Russia that LGBTQ+ rights represent encroaching values of the West that must be fought in order to preserve Russian identity.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has taken back territory occupied by Russia, leading to increased Russian strikes, including on civilian targets in Kyiv.