Bill to ban gay kissing on streets of Russia
"Homosexual propoganda" ... police detain a gay rights activist during a protest near the State Duma in Moscow. Photo: AP
RUSSIA'S parliament has given initial backing to a controversial bill banning homosexual ''propaganda'' among minors that is said to lead to gays being fined for kissing in public.
The vote on the first reading was to be held only hours after at least 20 mostly young opponents of the bill were detained by riot police during a kiss-in protest outside the Duma building.
In the first of three readings, the Duma backed the measure with 388 votes in favour, one against and one abstention after a brief debate.
The strict measure is based on laws passed in Saint Petersburg, the native city of the President, Vladimir Putin, and in several other Russian regions.
The push to enforce the law on a federal level has dismayed rights activists who believe the legislation is the latest in a sequence of repressive legislation against civil society to be debated by parliament.
But the Duma's family affairs committee chair Yelena Mizulina said she backed a nationwide law that ''protected minors from the consequences of homosexuality''.
''The unbridled propaganda of homosexuality anywhere you look effectively limits the child's right to free development,'' Ms Mizulina said before the bill reading.
Her comments came moments after a group of opponents held prolonged and proud embraces
with same-sex partners in open defiance of the bill. It was the third such action outside the Duma in a week and once again ended with police action.
Witnesses said officers detained 20 supporters and opponents of the bill as small scuffles broke outside the parliament building.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia at the end of the Soviet era but officials continue to express homophobic views in public. Leaders repeatedly refer to gays in official language as ''people of a non-traditional sexual orientation''.
Moscow authorities have roughly suppressed attempts to stage gay rights parades over the past seven years. A survey by the Levada-Centre in 2010 found that 74 per cent of respondents thought homosexuality was either ''immoral'' or ''mentally deficient''.