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Mothers petition St. Petersburg to drop anti-gay legislation

Published time: February 16, 2012 18:16
Edited time: February 16, 2012 22:16

Gay rights activists protesting against homophobia (RIA Novosti / Andrey Aleksandrov)

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An open letter allegedly written by Saint Petersburg mothers of gay children has appeared on the Internet, attracting media attention.

The women are trying to persuade deputies from passing an anti-gay propaganda law in St. Petersburg. They say it would discriminate against their sons and daughters.

“We can understand your intolerance to LGBT people – we have experienced it ourselves some time ago,” the letter goes. “But the confessions of our children helped us look at the situation from another point of view.”

The parents point out that homosexuality is not a choice – around five to seven per cent of people are born homosexual – so attempts to change them are useless.

“Being homosexual is not easy,” the parents add. “Coming out is difficult and painful, especially because these young people are alone. When they realize their nature, they are often under-aged. Many of them end up on the verge of suicide, because there is no one they can talk to about their feelings.”

Information about homosexuality must be publicly accessible, the letter says.

“Children must be enlightened, not scared. Homophobia is laughable in the 21st century. Russia’s task is to destroy homophobia and help children and their parents who face this situation.”

The parents call on Petersburg authorities to allow public hearings on the draft law, after rumors that the debates will be falsified.

Meanwhile, lawmakers say the letter was just a major fake.

“There have been several of these letters,” Vitaly Milonov, deputy of St. Petersburg’s legislative assembly, told RT. “I suppose all of them were written by the same person. And I don't think these were mothers. And I do not even think this to be a good example for real mothers – those who face this, I can even say, tragedy. The author of these letters says that we are offending the gay community. I do not care about offending the gay community. No one cares; they present no danger to the society. We just try to protect kids from gay lifestyle propaganda.”

The letter is the response to the new draft law composed by St. Petersburg’s authorities that would ban the promotion of gay lifestyles in the presence of children.

Under the proposed legislation, promoting homosexuality will be punishable by fines ranging from 5,000 rubles ($168) for individuals to 500,000 rubles ($16,800) for legal entities. This is almost 10 times more than in the first version of the law.

The bill, first submitted back in November 2011, outraged Russia’s human rights and gay rights watchdogs. They claimed that the wording was too discriminatory.

The new version of the law explains what exactly is meant by “public activities aimed at the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgender among youth.”

As the law goes, such actions imply that “spreading information that can damage the health and moral development of underage children, and make them believe that both traditional and gay relationships are normal.”

St. Petersburg’s LGBT community attempted to protest against the scandalous law, but the rally was quickly dispersed by the police. One of the protesters was arrested.

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