The controversial Russian ban against promoting so-called “gay propaganda” looks set to be extended to all adults.
The move represents a toughening of an existing 2013 law, which makes providing information about being LGBT to children a criminal offence.
Those convicted face large fines for promoting what Russia calls “non-traditional sexual relations”.
The initial approval of the extension was voted through by the Russian State Duma unanimously.
Earlier this week, officials had urged politicians in Russia’s lower house of parliament to enact the extension – portraying it as part of a broader battle over civilisational values with the West and linking it to the decision to invade Ukraine.
Under the proposal, information about “non-traditional lifestyles” or “the rejection of family values” would be considered legally the same as pornography, the promotion of violence, or stoking racial, ethnic and religious tensions.
It also bans the “propaganda of paedophilia” – which the Russian government often conflates with being gay.
Another element of the extensions prohibits information which might “cause minors to desire to change their sex”, a reference to transgender people.
If enacted, the law would allow any information on the internet discussing LGBT topics to be blocked and films deemed to contain positive depictions of being gay to be banned.
Human rights campaigners and LGBT groups say the extension means that any act or public mention of same-sex couples is functionally being criminalised.
The wide-ranging ban also extends to advertising and books – both non-fiction and literature – raising censorship concerns from publishers, who have warned of the risk that it could even affect classics of Russian literature.
Non-Russians who violate the ban face expulsion from the country.
The bill still needs to be approved by the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, before it can be approved by President Vladimir Putin.
But given it has broad support across all of Russia’s political parties in parliament, this is expected to take place without objection in the coming weeks.
One of the law’s leading supporters claimed on Monday that the sharing of information about LGBT people with Russians was a part of a “hybrid war” being fought by the West against the nation. Politicians in the Duma heard this claim.
Russian soldiers fighting as part of the invasion of Ukraine, according to Alexander Khinshtein, head of the parliament’s information committee, are there to defend traditional Christian values.
He saved some of his harshest criticism of the West, though, for his tirades against South Park and Peppa Pig.
He showed screenshots of TV shows to his colleagues, accusing them of being a part of a “war waged against our society.” He singled out the Peppa Pig episode where Penny the Polar Bear appears with two mothers as a particularly egregious example of this alleged propaganda.
The “special operation,” as the Russian government insists on calling its conflict in Ukraine, is taking place “not only on the battlefield, but also in the minds and souls of people,” according to Khinshtein, a member of the Duma from Mr. Putin’s United Russia Party.
His rhetoric is similar to that of the Russian president, whose authoritarian rule and anti-gay stance are central to his domestic agenda.
Mr. Putin made a rant about families with “parent number one and a parent number two” in a speech annexing four Ukrainian territories last month, which has been interpreted as a criticism of same-sex families.
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