MEMBERS of the European LGBTI community and rights advocates are cautiously celebrating the repeal of the one of the original Russian “gay propaganda” laws that was adopted nationwide.
Lawmakers in the city of St Petersburg this abolished its so-called “gay propaganda” law that was championed by the extreme religious member of the city’s legislative assembly, Vitaly Milonov.
Russia’s second largest city was one of the first to introduce the law in 2012 after banning Gay Pride for 100 years. St Petersburg’s legislation was then used as a model for the current national ban on gay propaganda.
The decision was said to be based on the fact that Milonov’s co-sponsored law was now enforced nationwide and a local law was no longer needed.
However, gay rights activists, including well-known lawyer Nikolai Alekseev, said that they believed the repeal was made due to an expected decision by European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on several cases involving activists who were arrested under other regional propaganda laws.
Milonov has said that he would continue to fight against “gay propaganda” and make sure such acts were criminalised.
Alekseev, who has been the only person charged under the St Petersburg law in its two-year history, suggested that Milonov was “scared” that the law could be overturned by the ECHR.
“Milonov is obviously scared and decided to not wait for the humiliating verdict of the ECHR,” Alekseev said.
Activists believed that if they achieved a legal victory it would be “extremely powerful”, and while the Russian regional and federal bans are separate, overturning one in the ECHR could lead to a repeal of the other.