23 June 2012
Deputy public hearings on the law enforcement practice of the so-called "gay propaganda" law, initiated by its author Vitaly Milonov, took place yesterday, June 22, in St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly. Two hours of hearings demonstrated clearly that the "propaganda" laws are not intended to protect children, but to attract the conservative-minded citizens and to make LGBT disappear from the public arena.
Same as last time "public" hearings were conducted, the public learned about them at the last moment. Even "Yabloko" deputies were notified about Milonov's plans on the eve of the event.
Invitees to the hearings included representatives of the regions of Russia where "propaganda" laws are discussed or already adopted. Words of support and gratitude to the initiator of the law were expressed by representatives of Samara, Tula, Novgorod, Arkhangelsk and Novosibirsk parliaments.
"Experts" invited by Milonov talked about homosexuality in terms of depravity, immorality and mental illness, in good tradition ignoring modern science, the position of Russian Ministry of Health, and the World Health Organization. Only Maxim Reznik, "Yabloko" party deputy, reminded the participants they were in city parliament, and called on them to renounce hate speech against gays and lesbians and to maintain a respectful dialogue.
Virtually none of the "experts" talked about the stated topic - the "propaganda" law enforcment practice. The most well-versed in the matter were human rights activists. Chairman of the Russian LGBT Network, Igor Kochetkov, told the audience how the law is used for intimidation and detention of human rights defenders and ordinary people. In most cases, the police and the judges avoid ruling on the "propaganda" law, since it's legal ambiguity makes it virtually impossible to determine the object of offense.
"Judging by the many thanks and blessings from deputies of other regions and by the Russian Orthodox chaplains, St. Petersburg is a clear testing ground for state discrimination and humiliation of millions of gay and lesbians in Russia," said Polina Savchenko, leader of Coming Out.