BRUSSELS, January 31 (RIA Novosti) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday expressed her concern about a Russian bill making “homosexual propaganda” among minors an administrative offense.
“The implementation of this law could reinforce discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and intersex people as well as all those who support them and their choices, in particular by limiting their freedom of expression and their freedom of association and assembly,” the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy said.
Ashton said that Russia should observe the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that the freedom of expression and freedom of association for all individuals should be protected.
The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, overwhelmingly approved the bill in its first reading on January 26. Just one deputy voted against the bill and one abstained, while 388 voted for it.
The bill would levy fines for “homosexual propaganda” of up to $16,000 for legal entities, while individuals and officials could face fines of around $160 and $1,600, respectively. Local legislatures in several Russian regions, including St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk, have already passed a similar law.