'Homosexual propaganda' laws in St. Petersburgh - a failed (but optimistic) attempt at repeal

Gayrussia reports that deputies in the Legislative Assembly of St. Peterburgh yesterday attempted to repeal the city administrative law which prohibits the 'propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors'.

The attempt to repeal was unsuccessful but must be seen optimistically in light of the repeated claims that there is support for legislation of this type among 'all Russians'.

Deputies of the Russian United Democratic Party 'Yabloko' attempted to repeal the legislation because, as deputy Boris Vishnevsky explained: 'It is impossible to [regulate] propaganda that in itself is neither a violation or criminal offense. This is absurd. During the past year [...] this article has been [used to] prosecute only one person (the founder of Moscow Pride Nikolai Alekseyev) yes and it was because he wanted to further appeal to the European Court of Human Rights'.

Vishnevsky also stated that he considers the administrative law to promote hate speech and public aggression towards homosexuals which has lead to murder: 'This is very dangerous'.

The result of yesterday's vote in the Assembly was 9 in favour of repeal of the propaganda law and 19 in favour of retaining it. With nearly one third against the law it demonstrates a lower majority in favour of the law than that seen in other regions.

This vote should be of significant interest to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe during their next consideration of the execution of the judgment in Alekseyev v Russia. It demonstrates significant regional opposition to regulation of this kind in St. Petersburgh. It shows the absence of a consensus on the necessity of homosexual propaganda law to ensure the protection of morals and the rights and freedoms of others - a consensus that the Russian Government frequently claims exists and which underwrites its margin of appreciation under the European Convention on Human Rights to legislate against homosexual propaganda.

The dissenting voices of the Yabloko deputies should be kept in mind as the Russian Parliament (Duma) nears its second reading of federal legislation that would prohibit homosexual propaganda across the whole of the Russian Federation.