Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, passed a new bill on Tuesday that outlaws activism by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and their supporters.
The new legislation bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, which refers to homosexual relations, and which critics say will restrict sexual health education and impede the fight against AIDS and homophobic prejudices. Individuals guilty of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” will face fines of up to 5,000 roubles (120 euros), whilst organisations will be liable for fines of up to 1 million roubles (24,000) euros and may have their activities suspended.
John Dalhuisen, the Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International, said of the laws: “They represent a sorry attempt by the government to bolster its popularity by pandering to the most reactionary elements of Russian society – at the expense of fundamental rights and the expression of individual identities.”
Ahead of the vote, a group of activists gathered outside the Duma to engage in a “kissing protest” and according to reports around 20 people were detained by police.
A second bill was also passed on Tuesday, which imposes penalties for “insults to citizens’ religious beliefs and feelings”, and which has also been criticized for being broad and vague in nature. The law follows last year’s trial and conviction of three members of the protest group Pussy Riot for performing a ‘punk prayer’ in a Moscow church. The case attracted international media attention and support from celebrities including Madonna and Yoko Ono.
Thank you NB for helping to keep this group international in spirit and scope.
Article from Atlantic.com, "Why is Russia so Homophobic?" part of it is attributed to, " since the Soviet state and now, even more, the Russian state is built on oppositions of us versus them, it is easy for the authorities to say "we" are x, not y. Homosexuality makes an easy "y," alas. Us vs them.... same tribalism we see everywhere. The article notes that Russia is one of the least religious countries in the world, but the Russian Orthodox christian church appears to be a force for homophobia in Russian tradition.
Another comment in the Atlantic article - "Homophobia more often than not ... derives not from one's faith, but from being essentially anti-liberal,...Russia is an illiberal country, and Putin's government capitalizes on illiberal sentiments, especially during the past year -- after the Kremlin faced mass protests of the liberal minority" It's interesting to me that the writer states "anti-liberal" rather than "conservative". The choice of words gives me a feeling that, rather than being "for" anything, it's an issue of being "against". Again, that tribalism issue.
In Russia, telling your "friends" you are gay, can result in your violent death.
""Such crimes are committed around Russia every day...all these crimes are categorized as something ordinary - they argued over a bottle of vodka, or there was 'personal animosity'. The real motive of hate is not mentioned."
Maybe this is superficial of me, but to me, this boils down to Putin saying, "I don't like Pussy Riot's taking shots at me. Therefore, HOMOSEXUALITY IS BANNED!!!"
No different from the logic and actions of the playground bully.
Russia is a very strange country. It is neither third-world nor is it fully "westernized." And, as stated, it is very non-religious but at the same time quite controlling and non-progressive in the same manner as conservative religions. This is a tough nut to crack. I think the only way positive change can occur is from the top. As long as the state continues to crack down on so called dissident and non-traditional behavior, the masses have no hope for reform, even if they want it. And those who do want change don't seem to have much support from others.
And since Putin is well-established in power and very avaricious thereof, I wouldn't hold my breath regarding any kind of change in Russia for the foreseeable future.
Long history of repressive govt - the Tsars, the communists, and now the elected thugs. Looking at the long term picture, at least there's movement by fits and starts in the right direction, sort of. Better than Stalin. Or Rasputin.
Putin seems to be really into his macho-ness and sort of, almost, being the dictator. There is barely a history of democracy, not much tradition of that. Doing a little better, perhaps, at it than the pseudodemocracy imposed on some other countries - Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt.
About a dozen gay rights activists -- along with Orthodox Christian activists who oppose homosexuality -- have been arrested during a gay pride parade in Moscow.
The unauthorized gay rights demonstration took place near the town hall in Moscow and was met by a massive police crackdown.
Among those reportedly arrested was Nikolai Alexeyev, the head of the Federation of Russian Homosexuals.
Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, gay marches are often banned by the authorities.
St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, also recently enacted a new law making homosexual "propaganda" an offense.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's United Russia party said the law was aimed at protecting children, despite objections from civil rights groups that the legislation hinders education about AIDS and its prevention.