Kissing his boyfriend during a protest in front of Russia's parliament earned Pavel Samburov 30 hours of detention on a charge of "hooliganism." But if a bill that comes up for a vote later this month becomes law, such a kiss could be deemed illegal "homosexual propaganda" carrying a fine of up to $16,000. The legislation being pushed by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church would make it illegal to provide minors with "propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism." It includes a ban on holding public events that promote gay rights.
St. Petersburg and a number of other Russian cities already have similar laws on their books. The bill is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values as opposed to Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and church see as corrupting Russian youth and by extension contributing to a wave of protest against President Vladimir Putin's rule. The move has been met mostly with either indifference or open enthusiasm by average Russians. Levada polls conducted last year show that almost two-thirds of Russians find homosexuality "morally unacceptable and worth condemning."