Human rights groups have heavily condemned the passage of a law yesterday through the Russian State Duma, which would ban “homosexual propaganda” across the country, as “outrageous and incredibly dangerous”.

The Russian Duma gave final approval to a bill to ban “homosexual propaganda” to minors, and the media. Similar laws have already been passed regionally in ten different areas of Russia, but this bill would impose the law nationwide.

The bill passed with 436 votes to 0, with one abstention. It will now go on to the Senate for consideration before being signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is expected to pass both of the next stages.

AllOut has started a petition which notes the passage of this bill, and other similar legislation, as part of a wider crackdown on LGBT people in Russia, and highlights the heavy support for the bill by the Russian Orthodox Church. The petition had reached 86,000 signatures since it was posted on 7 June.

Andre Banks, Executive Director and Co-founder of All Out said: “This bill is outrageous and incredibly dangerous for millions in Russia – both gay and straight,

“This is a dangerous crackdown on free speech. No one will be safe from the witch hunt that will ensue, not gay people, not straight people, not even foreign businessmen and women traveling to Russia.”

“The crackdown against gays and lesbians in Russia is very troubling,” he said. “While the rest of Europe is building a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity because of who they are or who they love, Russia’s policies are making life more dangerous and less free for not only gays and lesbians, but all of Russia.”

“This anti-gay crackdown does not represent Russian values,” Banks continued. “These are the values of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose conservative ideology will only drive Russians further into fear and isolation. Russians, like all people, want to be free.”

Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell also condemned the passage of the bill, saying: “This new law is symptomatic of President Putin’s increasing authoritarianism and his crackdown on civil society. It violates the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, and the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia has signed and pledged to uphold.

“Although the legislation is ostensibly aimed at prohibiting the dissemination of so-called ‘gay propaganda’ to young persons under 18, in reality it will criminalise any public advocacy of LGBT equality or expression of same-sex affection where a young person could potentially see it,” he continued.

“It is one of the harshest laws against LGBT freedom of expression anywhere in the world,” said Tatchell.

In the wake of a scandal caused last year by a protest by punk band Pussy Riot against Russian President Vladimir Putin, held in a Moscow cathedral, a law was also passed yesterday by the State Duma to criminalise insulting people’s religious feelings.