When Russian lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlyov introduced legislation that would take away kids from parents found to have "nontraditional sexual relations" last month, it seemed a bridge too far even for Russia. The author of the law banning the promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations to minors," Elena Mizulina, said determining whether or not parents were LGBT was impossible and doubted the law would be passed.
But on Sept. 19, it quietly cleared a necessary first step toward passage by the Duma: The Duma's legal department said that it is consistent with the Russian constitution and existing laws — especially the propaganda ban — and therefore something the Duma can officially take up. Now the committee Mizulina chairs has until November to gather comment. Though the committee could still halt the bill's passage, it could be up for consideration by the full legislature by February 2014, just in time for the Olympics.
Mizulina is still trying to pour cold water on the bill. On Oct. 2, she said that reports that her committee had approved the bill was "a blunt anti-Russian lie."
She continued, "It's clear to whom [this report] is favorable — to those who want Russia in the West be treated as a mad country."
She added that the bill "does not have any chances" of being passed because, "I cannot imagine how to sort families based on whether they are homosexual or not."
But her words did not reassure human rights advocates.
Tanya Cooper, Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that Mizulina had also vigorously opposed a ban on Americans adopting Russian children in December, "and then support[ed] it several days later."
"As it stands right now, the bill is up for consideration," she said, and that is reason for concern. "The draft, if adopted would be blatant, pernicious discrimination that would tear families apart and harm children, not protect them."
Andrei Malgin, a well-known journalist and writer, highlighted the issue on his blog.
"If a third [of LGBT Russians] have children, that means there are two million of these children," he wrote. "Does this mean that the State Duma is planning to add two million children to the orphan army in spring 2014?"