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Campaign Against Homophobic Bill Continues in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Over the past two weeks local LGBT activists in Saint Petersburg have been waging a rigorous campaign against the draft bill, proposed by Putin’s United Russia Party, which seeks to ban the promotion of "sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism to minors." The campaign conducted on a variety of fronts including petitions, protests outside the local parliament building, letters of complaint to politicians, bore out the fruits of success when yesterday on 30 November, 2011 deputies of the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg postponed – for a consecutive week in a row - the second reading of the bill.

The bill initiated by United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov has been perceived by many as a pre-election stunt in order to gain the conservative vote and boost popularity for the party whose ratings in recent months have been flagging. On 4 December, 2011 local elections are taking place across Russia. Attempting to save face and provide reasoning behind as to why the bill was not on the agenda Milonov stated that the draft of the law in response to complaints had simply been sent for review at the Russian Constitutional Court and was presently being verified that it did not go against human rights laws. After further investigation however it was announced by the press department of the Russian Constitutional Court that the bill was not under inspection and a request to do so had not even been received.

The delay of the second reading of the bill is a small victory for the LGBT community, however, the proposed bill is still very much live and at the convening of the new parliament in mid-December deputies may raise issue and attempt to forge through the amendments.

The adoption of such a law would be a direct stab at the heart of the Russian LGBT movement. The only interregional LGBT organization Russian LGBT Network, the largest grassroots LGBT organization Coming Out, Side by Side LGBT Film Festival and other LGBT groups are all headquartered in St. Petersburg. The move would be unprecedented, signaling the way ahead for other cities to adopt such similar measures (in Ryazan and Archangel the law is in place) or as it has already been suggested implement at a federal level.

Whatever the motivations behind the bill in the coming weeks it remains necessary to monitor closely the developments and maintain pressure on local deputies and the government recognizing it for its complete discriminatory and xenophobic character.

Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, LGBT Organization Coming Out, LGBT Network along with other the support of other local, national and international bodies will continue the Campaign Against the Homophobic Bill and will not relinquish the struggle until the initiative is abolished in its entirety.

As part of the continuing campaign Side by Side has produced the following social advertisement: 



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