Lawmakers in Russia are following through on president Vladimir Putin’s promise to roll back LGBTQ+ rights in the country, with a newly-proposed bill that will ban same-sex marriage, stop transgender people from adopting, and remove recognition for queer couples who get married abroad.
The legislation comes just weeks after voters backed a series of constitutional amendments, including one that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Other changes affirm the importance of God, mandate the teaching of patriotism to children, and enable Putin to stay in power until 2036.
“Homophobic state politics and legalised violence reign in Russia,” LGBTQ+ activist Alexey Nazarov told the Financial Times at the time of the vote, “and the adoption of this amendment is the signal for a new stage of discrimination.”
According to Reuters, having a ban on same-sex marriage written into the constitution will make it difficult for future successors to legalise it even if they wanted to. Same-sex marriage isn’t currently recognised in Russia, but there is a loophole in the country’s Family Code, which recognises queer unions registered abroad. However, the new legislation will remove this loophole.
Although the text of the bill submitted to parliament makes no mention of banning transgender marriages or adoptions, its co-author, Yelena Mizulina, told Interfax that these restrictions will also be included. “The bill must be adopted due to changes in public life,” Mizulina said, “including the public demand to preserve traditional family values and strengthen and protect family institutions.”
Hundreds joined protests against the constitutional reforms and proposed bill in Moscow yesterday (July 15), with many wearing face masks that read, “No”, and calling for Putin to resign. “Gay people are killed here, women are beaten up here,” one demonstrator told Reuters, “and no one is ever held accountable.” It’s been reported that dozens of people were arrested, though the authorities have not confirmed figures.
Campaigners are also still fighting against Russia’s persecution of artist and LGBTQ+ activist Yulia Tsvetkova, who currently faces criminal charges of ‘spreading pornography’ for posting drawings of women’s bodies on her Instagram, as well as a prison sentence for violating Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law after she shared a drawing of two same-sex families. You can sign a petition urging the authorities to drop the charges here.