Russia begins legalising ban on same-sex marriage

Russian lawmakers later in the day yesterday submitted a draft legislation that would ban same-sex marriage after voters backed changes to the constitution which define marriage as a union of a man and a woman only.

The changes, championed by President Vladimir Putin, were overwhelmingly approved by voters this month in an exercise that opened the door to Putin staying in power until 2036. Critics claimed that the outcome was falsified, something authorities rejected.

Putin, who has aligned himself with the Russian Orthodox Church and sought to distance as much as possible Russia from liberal Western values, has declared he will not legalise gay marriage as long as he is in the power in the Kremlin.

Representative Image. Image Credit: AFP Photo

Homosexuality in Russia, where the influence of the socially conservative Orthodox Church has grown in recent years, was already a criminal offence until 1993 and classed as a mental illness until 1999.

However, the situation with this new legislation becomes more problematic, as enshrining a de facto ban in the constitution means that any potential successors would find it hard to legalise same-sex marriage even if they wanted to.

The draft legislation, which is expected to be swiftly approved by the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, explicitly bans gay marriage and outlaws same sex couples adopting children, something they cannot now do in practice anyway.

The Interfax news agency also reported that Elena Mizulina, a senator and one of the authors of the legislation, claimed that the marriage and adoption ban would also extend to transgender people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia. Image credit Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained how the legislation was part of what he called a formalisation of new laws following the constitutional vote.

However, this also equals to a very harsh hit for all gay and transgender people in Russia, whose hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have doubled in five years in the wake of the law banning “gay propaganda”. Specifically, murders accounted for almost 200 out of 250 crimes analyzed, the Center for Independent Social Research explained.

“(Offenders) have become more aggressive and less fearful,” said Svetlana Zakharova, a board member with Russian LGBT Network, the country’s most prominent gay rights campaign group, which has noted the same trend.

Certainly, to some extent the Russian government supports their actions’ message within this new legislation.

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