The Australian Government has called on St. Petersburg to drop a new discriminatory bill that would ban gay ‘propaganda’.

The St. Petersburg’s City Legislature approved a second reading of the bill last Wednesday, which imposes fines of over $15,000 for the promotion of homosexuality.

The bill stipulates “public activities promoting homosexuality (sodomy and lesbianism), bisexualism and transgender identity” as well as paedophilia among minors, as falling under the definition of propaganda.

The fines are 10 times higher than when the bill was first brought before the city’s legislature in November.

In its representations to St. Petersburg, the Australian Government said it encouraged all countries to remove laws imposing criminal penalties for homosexual conduct, or laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Western Australian ALP senator Louise Pratt co-sponsored a motion to the Australian Senate last week condemning the laws.

“I am very pleased that the Australian Government has made representations to the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly regarding Australia’s concerns about its bill to ban the promotion of homosexuality,” she said last week.

“I know there are a great many people that have raised their voices in a worldwide campaign to stop these laws. They have been calling on foreign governments to raise their concerns with the St. Petersburg Legislature, just as the Australian Government has done.”

Russian LGBT rights group Side by Side released a statement saying the measure would rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of LGBT people and organisations, and their reaching out to the media and the internet, severely curtailing the publication of anything relating to LGBT rights or providing assistance or advice.

“It’s very concerning that these laws have passed through the second reading stage before a final vote next week,” Pratt said.

“It’s now more important than ever to ensure we hold Russia to account to meet its international human rights obligations and respect the rights and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians.

“The St Petersburg Parliament should not pass this law.”

A similar law is being considered in Moscow, and the ruling party’s representatives are suggesting that a federal bill be drawn up covering the same issues.

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