Bashkortostan is latest country to debate gay marriage
A politician in a remote Russian republic is to introduce a bill recognising same-sex partnerships.
Edward Murzin, a member of the Bashkir State Assembly, has introduced the bill.
He told the Interfax news agency that he wanted to uphold the Russian constitution, which bars discrimination of any kind.
It is unclear how other politicians in the federal republic of 4.1 million people will react to the law.
Bashkortostan is a member of the Russian Federation, but is essentially autonomous from Moscow.
The country is in the south of Russia and partly encompasses the Ural mountains.
“I intend to introduce this bill in the State Duma [upper house] as well, as it aims to guarantee real equality amongst citizens and further humanise relations in society,” Murzin told Interfax.
He went on to say his bill would protect human rights by legally recognising same-sex families.
“It should be taken into account that, according to the World Health Organisation, 10% of people are inclined toward same-sex relationships.
“Whether we want it or not, such unions exist and sometimes those in them live together their whole lives and keep common households. There is a positive record of this in Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands,” he said.
Despite a growing acceptance of gay partnerships in the Western World, Mr Murzin admitted there might be problems getting the legislation passed in Bashkortostan.
The Turkic-speaking nation is renowned for its world-class Bashkir dancing school in the capital Ufa.
It seems an unlikely place for gay rights to have gained a political champion.
In Soviet times, homosexuality was often treated as a mental illness, and up until the 1980s gay men and lesbians were committed to mental hospitals and given invasive therapy, normally involving psychotropic drugs.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993, but there is still a very strong homophobic element in Russian society, encouraged and fed by Christian and Muslim clerics alike.
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In May last year, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov announced that the city government will not allow a gay parade “in any form” and any attempt to hold a gay event will be “resolutely quashed.”
The Mayor’s statements were followed by the Russian Chief Mufti threatening violence if the Pride parade went ahead.
Chief Mufti of Russia’s Central Spiritual Governance for Muslims
Talgat Tajuddin said: “The parade should not be allowed.
“If they still come out into the streets, then they should be bashed. Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line.
“Alternative sexuality is a crime against God.”