In what its lawmakers are calling “hybrid warfare” against Western influence in Russia, lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that expanded the ban on LGBT content in the country to encompass adults as well as children, in what activists say will repress queer Russians even further.

The new bill, an expansion of an already-existing law that prevents young children from being taught LGBT issues and topics without being given a heavy fine, passed unanimously in the 450-seat State Duma's lower house on Thursday, according to Reuters

The bill puts content that espouses “non-traditional lifestyles” or “the rejection of family values” as “legally the same as pornography,” and would allow any information about queer topics online to be banned by the Russian government, BBC reported.

The heavy fine of the new law will reportedly cost up to the equivalent of $6,500 for each time so-called “LGBT propaganda” is promoted. The lawmakers defended the passing of the new law as a way of pushing back against “un-Russian” values, but many queer and LGBT activists have decried the law as outlawing queer minorities from the public eye, DW reported. 

“In fact, what is happening is the total state abolition of LGBT+,” LGBT Network, a legal aid collective, said in a statement. “They want to ban us not only from talking about ourselves or somehow demonstrating our feelings for our partners, but also to completely erase any mention of us in culture: books, films, media and the like.”

Lawmakers have been warned by publishers, however, that many popular books in Russian literature would be affected by the law due to its broad interpretation, potentially banning classics like “Anna Karenina” and “Lolita” from Russian book shelves.

With the Russia-Ukraine war in the forefront of their decisions, lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein, the main architect's of the bill, have espoused the belief that LGBT values are primarily Western-influenced, and that the bill will allow them to continue fighting against Western influence in the country. “The special operation takes place not only on the battlefield, but also in the minds and souls of people,” he said, adding, “LGBT today is an element of hybrid warfare and in this hybrid warfare we must protect our values, our society and our children.”

“The war is not only on the battlefield. It is also in the smartphones of our children, in cartoons and films,” conservative media owner Konstantin Malofeyev noted.

Russia Bans LGBT Representation Rep. Pic A new law being passed in the lower house of Russian legislature on Thursday ban LGBT representational and information in the country, in a bid for the Russian government to censor queer rights. This is a representational image. Norbu GYACHUNG/Unsplash.