- Associated Press - Thursday, March 29, 2012

MOSCOW (AP) — A controversial bill that is likely to fuel discrimination against Russia’s embattled gay community has been submitted to Russia’s lower house of parliament.

The bill calls for fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,500) for “spreading homosexual propaganda” among minors.

The legislation was submitted Thursday to the State Duma by lawmakers from the central Novosibirsk region who blamed media for promoting gay lifestyles as “normal behavior.”

The bill is similar to legislation adopted in February in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. Gay-rights activists say the legislation could be used to ban public demonstrations.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains strong.

The legislation also calls for a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($33,000) for material promoting pedophilia.