A parliamentarian from Vladimir Putin's United Russia party has called for a reconsideration of the country's anti-gay law, arguing that it has harmed Russia's image abroad and its investment climate.
Maria Maksakova, who is also a renowned opera singer, made the statement during a meeting of the party's liberal wing. She urged deputies to remove "non-traditional" from the law, which bans "propaganda of non-traditional relations to minors," arguing that heterosexual pornography, for example, was also harmful to children.
"I want to ask you — there probably aren't that many platforms where we can talk about this today," Maksakova said. "I'm not against our family values, but couldn't we take 'non-traditional' out of this law through amendments? And expand the law, so that any harmful propaganda of a sexual character to minors became inadmissible."
"I am ready to put forth this amendment," she said.
Maksakova has been a member of Russia's Duma since 2011 and aligns with a liberal position rarely shown inside the party. She appealed to the deputies' concern over Russia's investment climate, which she argued has suffered as a result of the law.
"We are seeing extremely negative consequences as a result of this law, with the growth of hate crimes," Maksakova said, citing the murder of a 23-year-old gay man in Volgograd. "Now we have a horrible problem, including with our investment climate, because for our artists it has become more and more difficult to work abroad."
"Musicians who are now in Europe, who sing in various theaters around the world, our wonderful colleagues, experience more complications of a discriminatory character, because they're kicked out of performances, they leave orchestras," Maksakova said. "This is done with people who can't really stand up for themselves, they simply lose work."
Noting that Russia did not spend much its budget on culture at home, she added: "I really would not like it so that my colleagues, who could make some sort of career in the West, lose it because of this unfortunate misunderstanding."
Those cultural figures whom are already well known in the West are faced with constant protests and questions, Maksakova told the meeting. Renowned Russian conductor Valeriy Gergiev has faced numerous protests as he tours the world.
Video of Maksakova's speech (in Russian):
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