The UK’s Foreign Office has described plans by lawmakers in St Petersburg to implement a law against “gay propaganda” as “wrong” and “mistaken”.
The law, which has been introduced by the ruling United Russia Party, would see people and organisations fined for the so-called “promotion” of homosexuality.
It has already passed one initial reading and equates “lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism” with “paedophilia”.
Fines range from 1,000 roubles (£20) for an individual to 50,000 (£1,000) for a business.
In a statement, released on Wednesday, an FCO spokesperson said: “The message of this law, that homosexuality is unacceptable, let alone in any way similar to a crime like paedophilia, is wrong.
“It goes against European and Russian commitments to human rights, including the guarantee of non-discrimination set out in the European Convention on Human Rights”.
In response, Lance Price, Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, welcomed the intervention by the FCO and said: “Consideration of the bill in the St Petersburg legislature has now been delayed by a week.
“We hope that our government, in conjunction with others around the world, will maintain the pressure to ensure that this pernicious legislation, which is already in force in two parts of the Russian federation, goes no further.
“Its scope is much wider than Britain’s notorious section 28 and would have a massive impact on the rights of LGBT people.’
The bill now appears to be on hold.
Campaigners have already staged numerous demonstrations in St Petersburg against the law.
Meanwhile, nearly 180,000 people have signed an online petition in protest via the LGBT rights group AllOUt.org
It’s Co-founder, Andre Banks, previously said that world leaders had failed to condemn Russia over the matter because it remains a “powerful nation”.