Russia may have decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, but homophobia across the country still clearly remains strong: the Kremlin and Russian Orthodox Church are strongly pushing new anti-gay laws nationwide.
The legislation being pushed would make it illegal for anyone in Russia to provide minors with information that is defined as “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism,” according to Time magazine. The law also includes a ban on holding public events to promote gay rights.
The new law is just a small part of a larger effort to promote “traditional” Russian values rather than “Western liberalism,” which the Kremlin and Orthodox Church believe is corrupting Russian youth, and thus contributing to a wave of protest against President Vladimir’s Putin control.
Pavel Samburov, founder of the Rainbow Association, which unites gay activists throughout Russia, describes the anti-gay legislation as part of an overall crackdown by the Kremlin on minorities in general, political, religious, sexual, etc. He says the new law is designed divert public attention away from the growing discontent with Putin. The Kremlin has pressed to enact various laws in recent months it says are intended to protect Russian youth, such as banning or blocking some web content and print publications entirely that are deemed “extremist” or “unfit for young audiences.”
The new anti-gay legislation is characteristic of a country that still maintains an open hostility towards homosexuality. According to a poll conducted by independent polling company the Levada Center last year, almost two-thirds of Russians find homosexuality “morally unacceptable and worth condemning.” About 50 percent also disapprove of gay rallies and same-sex marriage, and almost a third believe homosexuality is the result of “a sickness or a psychological trauma,” the Levada surveys show.
Russia’s political and religious elite openly share those views. In the past politicians have accused homosexuals of being responsible for decreasing Russia’s already low birthrates, and said they should be barred from government jobs, be forced to undergo medical treatment or be exiled. Speaking on a nationally televised talk show, a top executive with a government-run TV network said gays shouldn’t be allowed to donate blood, sperm and organs for transplants, and that their hearts should be burned or buried after death, according to the Associated Press.
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