St. Petersburg Approves 'Gay Promotion' Fines: Russian City's LGBT Bill Draws Protests

International lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates are crying foul after the Russian city of St. Petersburg yesterday approved a bill that will impose fines for the "promotion of homosexuality."

As RIA Novosti is reporting, the legislation, which effectively outlaws any gay pride events, follows similar bans in the southern Astrakhan and central Ryazan and Kostroma regions in Russia. Debate on the bill had been postponed last November after a disagreement over "legal definitions" and the amount of the fines.

If signed in to law by St. Petersburg's mayor, residents will be subjected to fines of up to 500,000 rubles (approximately $16,700) for "public activities promoting homosexuality (sodomy and lesbianism), bisexualism and transgender identity," as well as pedophilia among minors. Such fines are up to 10 times higher than the original amounts suggested when the bill was first brought before the city's legislature in 2011.

LGBT advocacy group AllOut.org is among those to criticize the new legislation, which they refer to as a "gay gag order" on their website. "This bill, which would violate Russia's own constitution as well as any number of international treaties, is an outrageous attack on the freedom of expression for all Russians -- straight and gay. It must not be allowed to stand,” said Andre Banks, AllOut.org Executive Director, said in an e-mail statement.

Officials from ComingOut, an LGBT-organization based in St. Petersburg, expressed similar sentiments in a statement: "This law would legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians in Russia. The history of Europe shows that all totalitarian regimes here began with similar repression of LGBT people. If this law is allowed to pass, it could signal that Russia is sliding towards a
new totalitarianism."

As Pink News reports, noted Russian activist Nikolai Alekseev, who referred to St. Petersburg's bill as "medieval barbarity" in an impassioned Op-Ed piece in The Guardian last December, was fined by the authorities in Arkhangelsk this week under that region’s rules forbidding the public "promotion" of homosexuality to minors.

testPromoTitleReplace testPromoDekReplace Join HuffPost Today! No thanks.