Recent news headlines have revealed all too clearly the severity of the attack on the rights of gay people in Russia and our opening post is dedicated to everyone in regions of the world such as this who are forced to suffer rights abuses because of their sexual orientation.
The story of Vladamir Putin’s persual of draconian anti-gay laws has not only stirred up a firey global media frenzy but also caused outrage and disgust amongst those who strive for equality by driving his country backwards when so many are taking huge strides forwards.
It appears there is no low Mr Putin won’t stoop to in his attempt to manipulate Russian citizens and further fortify his country’s deep rooted prejudices as he and other populist politicians seek to scapegoat and ultimately terrorise LGBT people.
The recent passing of the anti-gay law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors,” has opened a dark new chapter in the history of gay rights in Russia. The law is so broad that it has even been interpreted as prohibiting gay pride parades incase a minor might see one.
The state-sponsored initiatives have relied on ludicrous assumptions. For example, the regional bans on propaganda of homosexuality equated same-sex relations with paedophilia even though the former has been legal since 1993 and the latter is, of course, a serious crime.
Threats to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, rivers of dumped Russian vodka outside gay establishments and worldwide condemnation from media personalities, politicians and human rights groups has done little to influence or change the minds of Russian backers of this heinous new law.
John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project in Northern Ireland spoke of “the grave injustices experienced by our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters in Russia” at a demonstration in Belfast earlier this year. He added “The anti-gay propaganda law is profoundly discriminatory and has caused substantial harm to the gay community in Russia. Freedom of speech is something we often take for granted and when looking at countries like Russia we remember how important it is… We have a duty to stand up and speak out in support of those who have lost their voice.”
Similar Rallys in protest at the new Russian legislation have been held in locations worldwide.
With evidence growing that the anti-gay laws have emboldened rightwing groups to step up attacks on gay people it is more imperative than ever to encourage countrys and communities to mount pressure on Mr Putin and his government to repeal the law and speak out against these human rights atrocities before more people are caught up in the turmoil.
Rightwing vigilante groups such as Occupy Gerontophilia and Occupy Paedophilia claim to be trying to “reform” homosexuals through their campaigns of torture, violence and humiliation against vulnerable and innocent gay people. Hundreds of videos are circulating on YouTube and social media websites showing some of these horrible attacks on LGBT youth but politicians and the general population refuse to acknowledge or condemn the violence and intolerance the new laws have bred.
In fact only recently an MP in the Siberian region of Zabaikalsk called for a law allowing gays to be publicly flogged by Cossacks and Duma deputy Tatiana Yakovleva, a member of the ruling United Russia party had this to say – “Homosexuality is a sexual perversion which is unnatural and contradicts human nature,”
The only public support is “Deti-404”, a group for LGBT teenagers created by Russian journalist Lena Klimova. Deti a has created pages on Facebook and VKontakte to help those terrorised and undoubtedly now feeling alone and more terrified than ever. Users have been post photos, personal stories and motivational statements of support. https://www.facebook.com/children.404
According to The Guardian, most of the teens who utilize “Deti-404” are from small towns, and come from families that frequently express vitriolic and violent hatred towards LGBT people. One group member, “Svetlana”, describes, on the site, that her mother “calls homosexuals – and that means me too – mutants,” and that her father has repeatedly expressed the desire to hunt gay people down with his gun.
Unfortunately it seems experiences like that of Svetlana are as common as days ending in Y.
In February of this year a Levada Centre poll of 1,600 residents in over 130 Russian cities revealed some shocking statistics regarding attitudes of Russians to their gay and lesbian counterparts and has shown people have become less tolerant than a similar survey 8 years ago.
Of the 1,600 people surveyed 85% opposed same-sex marriage, 80% felt same-sex couples should not be granted adoption rights, 87% said they did not want gay pride parades to take place in Russian cities, 51% would not like to see a homosexual as a neighbor or a work colleague under any circumstances, 27% thought gay people needed psychological treatment, 16% of respondents thought that gay people should be isolated from society, 22% thought there should be compulsory treatment for them and 5% thought that homosexuals should be “liquidated”.