An anti-gay law has gone into effect in St Petersburg, Russia, prompting fresh concern from gay rights advocates that it will be used to promote hate crimes against homosexual and transgender individuals. The new law penalizes what proponents say is the promotion of homosexual activity among children, but detractors say it is part of a wider effort to persecute homosexuals in Russia's second largest city. The law, which took effect Sunday, in part prohibits "the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors. The law has prompted large protests in front of Russian embassies around the world in recent weeks. Homosexuality was outlawed during the Soviet Union and was only decriminalized by President Boris Yeltsin in , though it remains highly taboo today. Activists are quick to point out that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the famed composer and St.
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Although life in modern Russia allows many more liberties for gays and lesbians than it did before the Revolutions of , unofficial discrimination and fear are still rampant. Gay life in Russia is less open than in Western countries. In , 31 percent of the Russian population said in polls that homosexuals should be executed, and 32 percent said they should be isolated. Only 12 percent said they should be left alone. The figures are shifting slightly, however: in , 23 percent in a poll said homosexuals should be killed, 24 percent said they should be isolated, and 29 percent said they should be left alone.
St. Petersburg Teacher Latest Victim In Antigay Campaign
For three years, she had worked as a music teacher for children suffering from autism, learning difficulties, and cerebral palsy -- many of whom live in orphanages. Her employers were satisfied with her work. And by all accounts, she was well liked by her pupils. But Anastasia, who used a pseudonym for this article, is a lesbian.
Petersburg, the cultural and gay capital of Russia, was founded on May 27, by emperor Peter the Great and has a current population of around 5 million inhabitants. Much effort was undertaken to revamp for the year celebration, making the city even more attractive to foreign visitors. Petersburg drew a high level of media attention in the LGBT community in when the Legislative Assembly rushed through a new law that bans the "distribution of gay propaganda". This new law has meanwhile already led to first arrests. Petersburg possesses not only the tourist treasures such as the Hermitage, Russian Museum and Imperial Palaces in the environs, but also home the scattered gay venues including night clubs, bars, saunas, seaside beaches and the officially registered in gay and lesbian Center "Krilija" - a first in Russian history.