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Russian politicians plan to outlaw coming out - but not for "more reasonable" lesbians

“We think women are…more able to manage their emotions. So far, we’re not touching women.”

Russia Gay Rights Russian police arrest a gay rights activist carrying a rainbow flag at the banned Moscow Gay Pride event in 2012. Source: Associated Press

TWO SENIOR RUSSIAN politicians today presented a draft bill calling for people who come out as gay to serve up to 15 days behind bars.

Communist MPs Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev are proposing a fine of up to 5,000 rubles (€73) for people who publicly say they are gay.

Those who come out in educational institutions or government offices should serve up to 15 days in police cells, they say.

However, one of the duo earlier revealed that the proposed new law would only apply to gay men.

Nikitchuk, the 71-year-old deputy head of the parliament’s natural resources committee, told the Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei radio station:

We think women are more reasonable people and more able to manage their emotions. So far, we’re not touching women.

In response, opposition politician Alexei Navalny joked on Twitter:

Lesbians, the threat has lifted, you can reveal yourselves.

Homophobia is still widespread in Russia, with 37 percent telling the Levada independent polling agency in May that homosexuality is an illness, and 18 percent saying it should be punished by law.

The MPs told the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia they came up with the measure because a hugely controversial ban on “gay propaganda” to minors signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in 2013 was not proving effective.

communistscomingout Communist MPs Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev. Source: Russian Communist Party

But the proposal appeared extreme even for Russia and was not expected to get passed by parliament.

Even Saint Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, who is among the strongest backers of the existing gay propaganda law, questioned the need for new measures, and told AFP:

We can’t sentence people to 15 days just for admitting [their sexual orientation]. Of course if it’s propaganda, that’s a different matter.

The Communist lawmakers said they plan to submit the bill to parliament later today.

The proposed legislation prompted criticism both from supporters and opponents of gay rights.

“Chewing over this topic of homosexuality is a breach of ethical norms. I’m sure the draft won’t get through parliament,” pro-Kremlin United Russia party senator Alexei Alexandrov told RIA Novosti.

Those interested in this topic are going too far. I would advise them – both homosexuals and homophobes – to leave it in peace.

In the USSR “this topic was closed, it was not discussed” by Communists, he added.

Writing on the website Gay.ru, one commentator, Yana, said:

They just keep tightening the screws … Soon we’ll all be obliged to form traditional families and procreate. Those who refuse will be sent to fell timber.

Under the Soviet Union, homosexuality was a criminal offence punishable by prison.

Contains reporting by AFP.

Read: Russian ‘anti-gay fever’ flag shares its inspiration with Irish No campaign>

Read: Where in the world is it hardest to be gay? (And what can Ireland do to help?)>

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Dan MacGuill

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