Last edited: April 03, 2004

Russian Parliament Rejects Move to Criminalize Gays, April 2, 2004

By Malcolm Thornberry, Newscenter, European Bureau Chief

Moscow—A bill that would have made gay sex punishable by up to five years in prison has been killed in committee.

The legislation was proposed by the chairman of the People’s Deputy group of MPs Gennady Raikov, who is chairing the parliamentary commission for ethics in the Duma, or Russian parliament, and the incumbent mayor of Nizhny Novgorod Vadim Bulavin.

In proposing the bill they said it was at restoring public morality and the family. Both men are on the extreme right in Russian politics. Testifying before the committee on legislation they said blamed gays for an increase in HIV/AIDS in Russia, despite prior statements from health authorities that most new cases were among intravenous drug abusers.

They also said that most Russians agree with them that homosexuality is “unnatural”. Using some of the most homophobic language heard in the Duma in nearly a decade they blamed gays in Russia fro everything from the collapse of the economy to the rise of organized crime.

Homosexuality was illegal under the old Communist regime, but was decriminalized after the Soviet Union collapsed.

The commission members said the Russian Constitution guaranteed immunity of private life and confidentiality of family affairs.

Raikov and Bulavin left the meeting saying would would return each session of the Duma to keep trying to get homosexuality declared a crime.

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