Russian lawmakers passed a bill Thursday banning the promotion of what they call “non-traditional sexual relations” among adults.
The bill — which was approved by the lower house of parliament, or State Duma, after a third and final reading — bans “LBGTQ propaganda” in traditional media, on the internet, or on merchandise sold to the public.
It’s an expansion of a law that went into effect in 2013 and that outlawed any public discussions or positive messages about LGBTQ issues with minors — which was described by the Human Rights Watch as a “classic example of political homophobia” that “targets vulnerable sexual and gender minorities for political gain.”
On Thursday, State Duma lawmakers voted to expand the law to also include adults, aged 18 and older. The bill now goes to the Federation Council, the country’s upper house of parliament, before heading to President Vladimir Putin.
Under the revised law, any act seen as an attempt to “promote” LGBTQ behavior — on social media, films, television, print media, advertising, or in public — could lead to heavy fines or expulsion from the country.
Russian citizens who fail to comply with the law could be hit with fines of up to $3,300 for individuals, and up to $82,700 for legal entities. Non-citizens could be sent to jail for 15 days before being deported.
The law was sponsored by about 400 legislators in the 450-member chamber, according to Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS.
Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, one of the bill’s authors, said that the legislation was approved because of the country’s old traditions.
“We are following a different path chosen by our grandparents and great-grandparents. We have traditions, and we have a conscience, and we understand that we should think about our children, our families, and our country in order to preserve and protect [the values that] our parents handed down to us,” he said.
The law wouldn’t make violations a criminal offense, but some legislators have already shown support for an amendment to the criminal code.
Last month, Russia fined video-sharing giant TikTok around $51,000 for what Moscow saw as a violation of its current “gay propaganda” law. The case was based on accusations that the Chinese-owned company featured videos “featuring LGBT [issues], feminism and distorted representation of traditional sexual values,” Russian news agency Interfax reported.