Russia

Crackdown On Gay 'Propaganda' In Russia

A law introduced in the Russian Parliament this week aims to punish "homosexual propaganda" aimed at children. Critics are worried this is just another way to outlaw homosexuality.

Gay Pride in Moscow. The sign reads
Gay Pride in Moscow. The sign reads

MOSCOW- Russian lawmakers introduced a bill this week that would punish "homosexual propaganda" directed at minors. This comes on the heels of the recent adoption of similar legislation in St. Petersburg, the second-largest city in the country, that makes " homosexual and pedophile propaganda" punishable by fine, in amounts ranging from approximately $170 for individuals to $17,000 for corporations.

The law introduced on Thursday in the Russian Parliament, the Duma, will essentially make the St. Petersburg law national.

A memo explaining the proposed law proclaimed, "Homosexual propaganda has spread widely in modern Russia. This kind of propaganda is distributed both through the mass media, as well as through events that promote the homosexual lifestyle as a normal behavior."

The authors of the legislation also declared: "This is especially dangerous for children and youth, who are not yet capable of thinking critically about the avalanche of information they see on a daily basis." According to its authors, the goal of the law project is to protect the younger generation from the effects of "homosexual propaganda."

Defining what constitutes "propaganda"

Thebill's sponsors insist that the proposed legislation has nothing to do with individual sexual orientation, only with the dissemination of "propaganda."

The problem, according to Tatyana Glushkova, a lawyer for a civil rights organization, is that the laws, both in St. Petersburg and the one proposed in the Duma, do not define either "propaganda" or "propaganda directed towards minors."

"Practically any action that is connected to homosexuality in any way could be construed as propaganda," Glushkova says. "Basically, saying anything positive or even neutral about homosexuality in front of children would be forbidden."

Homosexuality was illegal in the Soviet Union until 1993, but continues to be widely stigmatized in Russian society.

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations.

Read the full article in Kommersant in Russian.

Photo - Dedd

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Society

Face In The Mirror: Dutch Hairdressers Trained To Recognize Domestic Violence

Early detection and accessible help are essential in the fight against domestic violence. Hairdressers in the Dutch province of North Brabant are now being trained to identify when their customers are facing abuse at home.

Hair Salon Rob Peetoom in Rotterdam

Daphne van Paassen

TILBURG — The three hairdressers in the bare training room of the hairdressing company John Beerens Hair Studio are absolutely sure: they have never seen signs of domestic violence among their customers in this city in the Netherlands. "Or is that naïve?"

When, a moment later, statistics appear on the screen — one in 20 adults deals with domestic violence, as well as one or two children per class — they realize: this happens so often, they must have victims in their chairs.

All three have been in the business for years and have a loyal clientele. Sometimes they have customers crying in the chair because of a divorce. According to Irma Geraerts, 45, who has her own salon in Reusel, a village in the North Brabant region, they're part-time psychologists. "A therapist whose hair I cut explained to me that we have an advantage because we touch people. We are literally close. The fact that we stand behind people and make eye contact via the mirror also helps."

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