Russia has taken steps to extend the country’s archaic ‘gay propaganda’ law to all adults. 

Back in 2013, the infamous legislation was signed into law by Vladimir Putin – which banned the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual orientations to minors. 

Over the last few years, the dangerous law has been used to stop Pride marches, detain activists and censor media with LGBTQ+ themes. 

In July, the head of the State Duma’s information committee, Alexander Khinshtein, proposed that the law be extended to all adults in Russia. 

“We propose to generally extend the ban on such propaganda regardless of the age of the audience (offline, in the media, on the internet, social networks and online cinemas),” he wrote on Telegram.

Now it looks like Russian lawmakers are taking steps to make that horrifying proposal become a reality. 

On 27 October, the State Duma approved a new bill that would make the established ‘gay propaganda’ law extend to all Russian adults. 

Under the proposed legislation, which was unanimously passed on its first reading, citizens who are caught promoting “non-traditional” values could be fined up to 400,000 rubles (£5,600) (per CNN). 

If legal entities break the aforementioned law, they could be fined up to five million rubles (£70,000), with foreign individuals facing up to 15 days in jail or deportation. 

During the parliament session for the legislation, Khinshtein claimed that the restrictive bill is not meant to censor the Russian population. 

“We are not banning references to LGBT as a phenomenon. We are banning propaganda, and the wording is extremely important here,” he said, as reported by Reuters.

The conservative lawmaker also accused the LGBTQ+ community of being an “element of hybrid warfare.” 

In response to the alarming news, LGBTQ+ activists and organisations have called out Russia for approving the first reading of the dangerous bill.

“In Russia’s new era of repression, state-sanctioned homophobia is about to be ramped up to a whole new level,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 

“The new draft ‘gay propaganda’ law not only brazenly deprives LGBTI people of their right to freedom of expression and endorses their discrimination, but will likely also lead to an increase in violent attacks and other hate crimes against them.” 

Natalia Soloviova, the chair of the board of the Russian LGBT Network, echoed similar sentiments in an interview with AFP. 

“It’s absolutely absurd because people would be forbidden to speak about themselves, their lives,” Soloviova said. 

She went on to say that the new bill would also “encourage discrimination” and increase the number of hate crimes.

“The LGBT community is seen as a Western thing. So this is like a small victory against the West, even if, in reality, it is not,” she added.