After criminalising all forms of so-called “gay propaganda”, Russia has now turned its attention to positive depictions of bisexuality and polyamory.
With Russia’s population expected to decline by 30 million over the next decade, the question of how to raise the birth rate dominated discussions on Thursday (4 March) at a conference of United Russia, the country’s ruling party.
Among the many proposals floated under the “Strong Family” project was a ban on polyamorous and bisexual “propaganda”, with the idea of reversing population decline by defending traditional Christian values.
“They are trying to corrupt our youth,” claimed MP Vladimir Krupennikov, according to the Russian news outlet Kommersant.
Russia already bans positive depictions of LGBT+ people and threatens hefty prison sentences for anyone who even comes close to challenging the country’s prevailing anti-LGBT+ attitudes.
In the decade since it was introduced the law has been used to silence activists, shut down Pride events and monitor students’ social media profiles.
But Krupennikov insisted on the need to tighten these laws, alongside a ban on the dissemination of “propaganda of the safety of abortion”.
The state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported that his resolution contains a proposal to introduce a sweeping ban on any information “that offends family values, motherhood, large families and childhood”.
It specifically calls for a ban on “propaganda” relating to transgender people and gender confirmation surgery, as well as tougher penalties for the promotion of non-traditional relations and a ban on LGBT+ symbols in state institutions.
“Without such measures, it is impossible to raise the birth rate in the country,” deputies and senators are reported as saying.
The conference at the State Duma was also joined by representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Union of Orthodox Women and the Association of Large Families in Moscow.
Throughout the debate speakers repeatedly condemned the “perniciousness” of Western values, while conversely admitting that European countries are provably better than Russia at supporting families and motherhood.
It’s not clear whether Krupennikov’s proposal to ban the propaganda of bisexuality and polyamory will have legislative prospects, but it reflects an increasingly conservative turn in Russia’s overtly homophobic parliament.
In the event that is introduced in the form of a bill it is unlikely to meet much opposition, considering that only one MP abstained from voting against the gay propaganda law in 2013.