LGBT, News

Russia Has a Very Gay Problem

It shouldn’t be surprising to any outside observer in a more civilized country that Russia, the country which criminalized any form of same-sex relations until 1993, has taken another step backwards in the field of human rights.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian head of state.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian head of state.

If you haven’t been watching, you should have been: it started when ten Russian Oblasts (the equivalent to provinces or states) passed laws banning what they referred to as “homosexual propaganda” among minors, quickly moving to the State Duma which then passed federal laws against the spread of LGBT and pedophile “propaganda.”

The outrage has been steadily building since, peaking after a number of Dutch tourists were arrested and subsequently deported for attempting to make a documentary on the issue.

A big part of the growing outrage has related to the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in Sochi and how the International Olympic Committee (or Russia) will deal with the matter. So far a couple of conflicting statements have flown out of Russia, suggesting that either the law will be waived around Sochi (and not Russia itself) for the 2014 games or that it will be completely enforced.

While it’s anyone’s guess what approach the Russian government will take to the games, their hardline stance has only strengthened over the past couple of months. ABC News reported yesterday that the less-than-wholesome Lady Gaga and Madonna are in trouble over what Russian authorities claim to be passport violations. Considering statements both have made in Russia regarding the country’s anti-gay laws, the ABC News piece rightfully points out that this trouble is likely a Russian-style retribution for open defiance of the law.

The best reactions from us on this side of the planet to these blatant attacks on the LGBT community have been to boycott Russian vodkas (including Stolichnaya, who have apparently supported us) and petitioning NBC to use Rachel Maddow as a special human rights reporter during the Sochi games.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that if Russia weren’t a dictatorship with a wannabe Stalin as top dog things would be different. Far from showing any major difference, even the Communist Party of Russia tends to agree with United Russia’s party line on LGBT rights. A simple look at Pravda.ru, a website owned and operated by the CPRF (formerly the USSR’s state organ) shows an onslaught of articles on how the gays are ruining society and Putin’s government is heroic for stopping them.

Most of their claims, however, could have come from an anti-gay pamphlet in America circa 1985.

Unsurprisingly, American conservatives and hard-right fundamentalists have started taking a liking to Vladimir Putin. His ardent defense of the Russian Orthodox Church and vehement hatred for the LGBT community have made him an idol among idols to many, even with Russia’s New Cold War approach to international politics in the early 2010s.

Though Russia’s human rights situation is likely to undergo further deterioration with Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of power around him and his cultish United Russia, the country has grown to serve as a good example of how quickly things can go terribly wrong when brutish right-wingers have full power. Beyond all the boycotts and celebrity activism, the LGBT community should be working hard to assure that we don’t ever have to go through here what LGBT activists and persons are now over there.

About Alyssa Kova

She's a 23 year old LGBT activist with a massive chip on her shoulder, and an unfortunate habit of referring to herself in third person on "About" sections of things.

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