Russia passes law banning 'LGBT propaganda'

STORY: Russia has approved a bill that widens a ban on so-called "LGBT propaganda" and restricts the "demonstration" of LGBT behavior.

The rules make any expression of an LGBT lifestyle almost impossible.

Any action or information that is considered an attempt to promote homosexuality - whether in public, online, or in films, books or advertising - could now incur a heavy fine.

Previously, the law had only outlawed promotion of LGBT lifestyles aimed at children.

Lawmakers say they are defending traditional values of the "Russian world" against a liberal West that they say is determined to destroy them.

But critics see the move as an attempt to further intimidate and oppress sexual minorities in Russia.

Here's lawyer from Russian LGBTQ support organization "Coming Out", Ksenia Mikhailova.

"This is a signal that all types of violence against LGBT people are allowed by the state - as it already happened in 2013 when there was a wave of hate crimes against LGBT (people). Now it will be a tsunami."

The fine will be up to $6,600 for individuals and up to $82,100 for legal entities.

Foreigners could face 15 days of arrest and subsequent expulsion from the country.

In Russia, authorities have already used existing laws to stop gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists.

Political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann says the aim of the widened legislation is two fold:

To present Russia as the saviour of traditional values, and to allow Russian authorities wider oversight of the internet and 'informational sphere' across the country.

"....the most interesting part is the passage that leads to (media regulator) Roskomnadzor - the Russian federal service for watching over the internet of the informational sphere in general - new authority and responsibility to monitor all sorts of information in search of this 'harmful propaganda'."

Human rights groups say the new law is intended to drive so-called "non-traditional" LGBT lifestyles...

practiced by lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people out of public life altogether.

Video-sharing app TikTok was even fined 3 million roubles last month for promoting "videos with LGBT themes."

While Russia's media regulator asked publishing houses to look at withdrawing all books containing "LGBT propaganda" from sale.

The bill will need the approval of the upper house of parliament and President Vladimir Putin before coming into force.