The law on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors" was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on July 29. Originally titled the law on "homosexual propaganda," the bill criminalizes public expression of support for nontraditional relationships. Russian lawmakers say the law doesn't outlaw homosexuality but merely discourages discussion of it among people younger than 18. However, the law has outraged Russian liberals and some sectors of the international community just six months before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in the Russian city of Sochi.
What is propaganda?
>> An activist, holding a placard depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, participates at a protest against Russia's new law on gays, in central London, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. Hundreds of protesters, called for the Winter 2014 Olympic Games to be taken away from Sochi, Russia, because of a new Russian law that bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies.
The definition of "propaganda" is vague and hinges on intent. Anyone who distributes information with the "intention" of persuading minors that nontraditional sexual relationships are "attractive" or "interesting," or even "socially equivalent to traditional relationships" could be accused of breaking the law.
The law does not outlaw gay sex, which was legalized in Russia in 1993. It does not explicitly ban participation in gay pride parades or promotion of LGBT equality online, but anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of propagandizing.
>> Riot police guard gay rights activists who were beaten by anti-gay protesters during an authorized gay rights rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, in this Saturday, June 29, 2013 file photo.
What are "nontraditional relations"?
>> Gay rights activist Ann Northrop, a member of Queer Nation speaks to reporters during a demonstration in front of the Russian consulate in New York, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Russian vodka and the Winter Olympics in Sochi are the prime targets as gays in the United States and elsewhere propose boycotts and other tactics to convey their outrage over Russia's intensifying campaign against gay-rights activism.
They are not defined by law. However, in an interview with the channel REN-TV, Yelena Mizulina, one of the bill's authors, said there were four kinds: "men with men, women with women, bisexuality and being transgender."
>> In this file photo taken on Monday, May 30, 2011, Russian lawmaker Yelena Mizulina speaks during a news conference on proposed legislation to curb the number of abortions in Russia, in Moscow, Russia.
What are the penalties for violating the law?
>> A gay rights activist chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the Russian consulate in New York, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Russian vodka and the Winter Olympics in Sochi are the prime targets as gays in the United States and elsewhere propose boycotts and other tactics to convey their outrage over Russia's intensifying campaign against gay-rights activism.
The law sets fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($150) for individuals and 1 million rubles ($30,000) for organizations convicted of violating the law. Punishments are more severe for propaganda on the web or in the media — up to 100,000 rubles ($3,000) for individuals and up to 1 million rubles for organizations. Foreign citizens are subject to fines of up to 100,000 rubles, up to 15 days in prison, and deportation and denial of reentry into Russia.
>> Riot police officers try to detain a former paratrooper in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. Before that paratroopers scuffled with gay right activist Kirill Kalugin, who stood protesting against gay rights violations at the Palace square where paratroopers celebrated Paratroopers' Day.
Has the law been enforced?
>> From left to right, Michael Niemeyer, Matthew Ervin, Alfredo Diaz, Richard Grossi, Rodney Scott and council member John Duran empty Russian vodka bottles into a gutter during a news conference on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 in West Hollywood, Calif. Bar owners joined with West Hollywood city officials to announce a boycott of Russian vodkas as part of a protest that has stretched across the county in opposition to anti-gay laws recently signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
No one has yet gone to court under the federal law. Six LGBT activists were detained after one of unfurled a banner reading "Being gay is normal" near a children's library in Moscow, but so far the participants have not been brought to trial.
Four Dutch citizens working on a documentary film about gay rights in the northern Russian town of Murmansk were the first foreigners to be detained under the new law. They were fined and forced to leave the country, but weren't put on trial.
There have been six cases in which individuals have been tried for "propaganda" under regional legislation.
>> In this file photo taken on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, foreground, points as he visits a central soccer stadium in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia. Mutko said Thursday Aug 12013 that a new law cracking down on gay rights activism will be enforced during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
How will the law impact LGBT rights?
>> In this file photo taken on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, former paratroopers scuffle with gay right activist Kirill Kalugin, right, in St.Petersburg, Russia.
While most activists believe that the law will not be widely enforced, it effectively gives any local government a carte blanche to ban gay pride events and will discourage people from discussing LGBT rights publicly and online.
>> Gay rights activists hold a banner reading "Homophobia - the religion of bullies" during their action in protest at homophobia, on Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on Sunday, July 14, 2013. Police detained several gay activists.
How have Russians reacted to the law?
>> A Russian gay rights activist wears handcuffs while he and others, dressed as female police officers, protest against a new gay propaganda law, in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.
While the legislation outraged Russian liberals and activists, a poll by the independent Levada Center in Russia found that 73 percent of respondents supported any government efforts to curb homosexual propaganda. Four out of five Russians say that they do not have a single LGBT acquaintance.
>> Activists, holding placards depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin as Adolf Hitler, participate at a protest against Russia's new law on gays, in central London, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013.
How has the rest of the world reacted to the law?
>> The zebra crossing outside of the Russian embassy in Stockholm Sunday Aug. 11 2013 which gay rights supporters have painted in the colours of the rainbow following angry exchanges during the previous week's Pride festival over the country's treatment of gay individuals. Russia's new law, recently signed by President Vladimir Putin, imposes fines and up to 15 days in prison for people accused of spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors and hefty fines for holding gay pride rallies.
The law sparked a boycott of Russian vodka in gay bars across North America and vodka dumps in front of Russian embassies and consulates. There have been scattered calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi, but no country or athlete has yet declined to attend. Most officials, including President Barack Obama, have called a boycott unnecessary.
>> In this Saturday, May 16, 2009 file photo a gay rights activist is detained by a police officer in Moscow, Russia. A controversial bill banning "homosexual propaganda" will be submitted to Russia's lower house of parliament for the first of three hearings Tuesday, Jan. 22. 2013
What about the Olympics?
>> Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to a speech during a tour of the Amsterdam Hermitage museum. in the Netherlands, Monday April 8, 2013, marking the official start of the Netherlands-Russia year 2013. After getting an earful from Chancellor Angela Merkel on the importance of democratic issues, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Amsterdam on Monday to face an eyeful of protests from gay rights activists.
That's unclear. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said foreign athletes would be expected "to respect the laws of the country," but some lawmakers and the Russian Olympic Committee said the law would be suspended during the Games. Last week the International Olympic Committee called for Russia to clarify its stance.
>> Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Watch have called on the International Olympic Committee to speak out against Russia's bill to crack down on gay-rights activism as the country makes final preparations to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.