On December 20, 2013, Russian Federal communications inspection body “Roskomnadzor” and its Mass Media Expert Council announced that they have finished drafting a list of judgement criteria for application of the 436-FZ law “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development”. Gay propaganda to minors ban is an amendment to the Russian Administrative Infractions Code, 436-FZ and124-FZ laws. The amendment was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on July 29, 2013. In December, 2013 the criteria list was handed in for consideration to the Russian State Duma and for public discussion.
The anti-gay part of the Administrative Infractions Code reads as follows (translation from SRAS.ORG):
Article 6.21. Propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors
1. Propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors, manifested in the distribution of information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual orientations, the attraction of non-traditional sexual relations, distorted conceptions of the social equality of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations among minors, or imposing information on non-traditional sexual relations which evoke interest in these kinds of relations – if these actions are not punishable under criminal law – will be subject to administrative fines: for private citizens in the amount of 4,000 – 5,000 rubles; for administrative officials, 40,000 – 50,000 rubles; for legal entities, 800,000 – 1,000,000 rubles or suspension of business activities for up to 90 days.
2. Actions covered under Part 1 of this article which are committed with the employment of the media and/or information and telecommunications networks (including Internet sites) – if these actions are not punishable under criminal law – will be subject to administrative fines: for citizens of 50,000 – 100,000 rubles; for administrative officials – 100,000 – 200,000 rubles; for legal entities – 1,000,000 rubles or suspension of business activities for up to 90 days.
3. Actions covered under Part 1 of this article which are committed by foreign citizens or stateless persons – if these actions are not punishable under criminal law – will result in an administrative fine of 4,000 – 5,000 rubles with administrative deportation from the Russian Federation or administrative arrest for up to 15 days with administrative deportation from the Russian Federation.
4. Actions covered under Part 1 of this article which are committed by foreign citizens or stateless persons with the employment of the media and/or information and telecommunications networks (including Internet sites), if these actions are not punishable under criminal law, will result in an administrative fine of 50,000 – 100,000 rubles with administrative deportation from the Russian Federation or administrative arrest for up to 15 days with administrative deportation from the Russian Federation.
The term “non-traditional sexual relations” is not defined anywhere in the Russian legislation. The criteria list gives certain examples of cases which might violate the law, however experts many times stipulate that exact meaning often depends on the cultural context of the situation. Basically it means that the reasons for the law enforcement are probably still going to be vague.
The law in general is aimed at “protecting” children younger than 18 y. o. and prescribes to mark informational materials with a certain sign of age for which it is intended. Some kinds of information are either strictly prohibited from distribution among minors (like in Article 6.21) or must be limited to a certain age range. For example, major Russian LGBT web-site Gay.Ru has successfully passed a recent Roskomnadzor inspection because it had a “18+” sign on it, and inspectors pronounced that there is no gay propaganda to minors on this web-site. On the contrary, in November “Molodoi Dalnevostochnik” newspaper marked “16+” was put under investigation and recieved a Roskomnadzor warning for publishing an interview with a gay teacher fired for his sexual orientation.
The criteria list is a part of a larger “Concept of informational safety of children”, available in Russian here.
In the Glossary homosexual people are given as an example among representatives of the “group of social risk” which is defined as:
The group which is exposed to dangerous negative influences and poses a threat to the life of society. Traditionally, risk groups are alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals, homeless, whose lifestyle can be defined as a display of disease of the society.
In the “Concept of informational safety of children” information on LGBT is treated as being equally dangerous for underage children as pornography, violence, unlawful activities, etc. However, 436-FZ law states exceptions such as following:
Artcle 1. Incidence of the Federal Law.
2. This Federal Law is not applied in relations for:
1) circulation of informational produce containing scientific, scientific and technical, statistical information;
3) circulation of informational produce having significant historical, artistic or other cultural value for society;
For information to be qualified as propaganda experts of the criteria list suggest it should have “author’s desire to influence public opinion, systematic character of information dissemination, presence of false data in the disseminated information” (p. 78, full text available here in Russian). Dissemination of information on the Internet is deemed “systematic”. Experts claim that ” the value of traditional monogamous heterosexual family” can be “disaffirmed by proposing alternative models of family relations: homosexual, polygamic, cohabitation, etc.”
The criteria list itself is as follows (pp. 79-83):
Discrediting the traditional family model. For example, on many online resources you can find the idea that at the present stage of development of society the traditional model of the family has lost many of its functions and is an obstacle to the free development of personality.
Promotion of alternative models of family relations. For example, many sites that promote non-traditional relationships, cite statistical data on the adoption of children by homosexual and heterosexual couples. Taken out of the broader context, this information can form in children and adolescents an idea that a gay couple can cope with parental responsibilities not worse than a heterosexual one.
Justification for rejection of traditional family values. For example, description of the conditions and situations in which the refusal of traditional family values is acceptable.
Using emotionally charged images for discreditation of traditional family model and promotion of alternative family models. For example, a pair in non-traditional sexual relationships can be represented as bright and charming. For example, a pair in a heterosexual marriage can be represented as coarse and repulsive.
Descriptions of alternative models of family relations. For example, step by step instructions of experiments with non-traditional sexual relationships for adolescents.
Personalized examples. For example, the history and the stories of people who deny the family values, who are in non-traditional sexual relationships, showing disrespect for parents and (or) other family members.
Loss of critical approach. For example, messages containing appeals, orders, comments, suggestions, etc. (containing information about non-traditional sexual relationships [...] conscious and critical perception and understanding of which by a child is difficult…)
Alternative models of behavior. For example, a clear demonstration (through images , photos or videos) of non-traditional sexual relationships.
Exploitation of interest in sex. For example, false allegations of widespread non-traditional sexual relationships among teenagers in today’s society.
Alternative standards for identification. Web-sites of the LGBT community containing lists of prominent people of past and present, being in non-traditional sexual relationships.
Social approval. For example , direct or indirect approval of people who are in non-traditional sexual relationships.
Thus, in the “Criteria of Internet Content Harmful for Children’s Health and Development” list experts give a wide-raging description and examples of virtually any possible mention of LGBT in a positive context (full text available here in Russian).
Photo by valya_v
UPDATED January 6, 2014:
Experts for the “Criteria of Internet Content Harmful for Children’s Health and Development”:
|Soldatova Galina Urtanbekovna (Vladimirovna) / Солдатова Галина Уртанбековна (Владимировна)Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Education, Doctor of Psychological Science, Professor, Personality Psychology Department Vice-Chair, Psychology Faculty at the Moscow State University, profile (Russian), email: email@example.com|
|Voiskunskiy Alexander Evgenjevich / Войскунский Александр ЕвгеньевичBorn May, 18, 1947, Candidate of Psychological Science, Professor, General Psychology Department Senior Researcher, Psychology Faculty at the Moscow State University, profile (Russian), email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Parfentjev Urvan Urvanovich / Парфентьев Урван УрвановичCandidate of Political Science, Regional Public Organization “Centre for Internet Technologies” (ROCIT) Chief Analyst, Centre for Safe Internet Coordinator, email: email@example.com|
|Rasskazova Elena Igorevna / Рассказова Елена ИгоревнаCandidate of Psychological Science, Neuro- and Pathopsychology Department, Psychology Faculty at the Moscow State University, MSU profile (Russian); Scientific and Training Positive Psychology and Life Quality Group Chief Research Officer, Higher School of Economics, HSE profile (Russian), email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Shlyapnikov Vladimir Nikolaevich / Шляпников Владимир НиколаевичBorn June, 30, 1980, Candidate of Psychological Science, Psychology Faculty Dean, General Psychology and Development Psychology Department Chair, Academy of Social Management (Moscow), profile (Russian), email: email@example.com|
|Malakatia Aleksandra Guramovna / Макалатия Александра ГурамовнаPshychologist, Psychology Methodology Department Research Officer, Tutor, Psychology Faculty at the Moscow State University, profile (Russian)|
UPDATED January 11, 2014:
Three authors of the above have joined the Facebook discussion of the matter initiated by a number of Russian psychologists. Alexander Voiskunsky said that his participation in the work on the text has been reduced to a dispatch of a few specific suggestions, he claims he has not read the whole text before its publication and does not agree about his involvement in this story and sincerely regrets it. Elena Rasskazova and Vladimir Shlyapnikov extensively explain that they did the maximum good in the current situation and neatly switch the conversation on homophobia to all sorts of other topics. Also, a Russian movement called “Dissernet”, which checks Russian officials’ dissertations for plagiarism, found out that Parfentjev’s thesis for the title of candidate of political science includes a lot of unreferenced material from other authors and can not be accepted as original work produced by himself.