Russian president Vladimir Putin recently signed a controversial bill into law that punishes people for “homosexual propaganda,” a statute that applies to both citizens and tourists alike. Travel and Escape, a Canadian travel magazine, is saying that gay visitors to the country have to watch out because “it is now outlawed to be ‘out and proud'" in Russia.
It is not clear what exactly falls into the category of gay propaganda, but it appears that everything from gay-affirmative speech and hand-holding to displaying a rainbow flag or dressing like Elton John might now be illegal, The Commentator reported.
The official publication of the bill stated that: “The anti-propaganda law introduces fines of up to 5,000 rubles [$156] for citizens who disseminate information aimed at minors ‘directed at forming nontraditional sexual setup’ or which may cause a ‘distorted understanding’ that gay and heterosexual relations are ‘socially equivalent.’”
In addition to being fined, foreigners also face administrative arrest of up to 15 days and eventual deportation.
Despite much evidence to the contrary, Putin denied the law's anti-gay nature.
"We are talking about protecting children from the respective information," he said. "We ask that [other countries] do not interfere in our regulation.”
A number of celebrities, including Madonna and Lady Gaga, have tried to advocate for Russia’s struggling lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community during the past year.
It is unclear what impact that new law will have on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.