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Russia: Upper house passes "gay propaganda" bill, sends homophobic law to Putin

MOSCOW -- The Federation House, Russia's upper chamber, overwhelmingly approved the "gay propaganda" bill today and sent the homophobic measure to President Putin for his signature.

One lawmaker abstained from voting, and 137 approved the bill, which has been soundly criticized by western leaders and human-rights advocates.

The lower chamber, the State Duma, passed the bill on June 11.

The controversial bill makes it a crime to talk about same-gender issues to minors and extends to the media, the Internet and public gatherings. Those convicted will also face a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($30,000 in U.S. currency) to companies or groups, and 50,000 rubles ($1,500) to individuals.

Putin claims that Russia does not discriminate against LGBT people, but his critics say that Russia has seen a big uptick in anti-gay violence since similar laws were passed last year in St. Petersburg and other cities.

The new law also applies to foreigners visiting Russia.

Many athletes are concerned about the new law since Russia will be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014. Some human-rights advocates have been urging countries to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics over the issue of LGBT rights.