The Russian city of Saint Petersburg appears to be taking such a harsh stand on gay rights that gay marriage seems out of the question. To the dismay of Russia’s gay community, the municipal authorities are about to pass a bill which would ban promotion of “sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transsexuality” to minors.  The purpose of the law is to stop “spreading information that can damage the health and moral development of underage children, and make them believe that both traditional and gay relationships are normal.” The offence would carry a fine of up to 5,000 rubles (100 GBP) for individuals and up to 500,000 rubles (10,000 GBP) for organisations. Human Rights Watch worries that “If the bill becomes law in St Petersburg it is likely that this could serve as a precedent for federal legislation.”

An open letter from Saint Petersburg mothers of gay children is circulating on the Internet and has attracted lots of attention by the local media. “Children must be enlightened, not scared. Homophobia is laughable in the 21st century. Russia’s task is to destroy homophobia and help children and their parents who face this situation,” says the letter.

However, Vitaly Milonov, deputy of St. Petersburg’s legislative assembly, told RT news service that the letter was not authentic.

“There have been several of these letters. I suppose all of them were written by the same person. And I don’t think these were mothers. And I do not even think this to be a good example for real mothers – those who face this, I can even say, tragedy. The author of these letters says that we are offending the gay community. I do not care about offending the gay community. No one cares; they present no danger to the society. We just try to protect kids from gay lifestyle propaganda.”

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.