This week saw the Russian Duma vote overwhelmingly in favour of new measures that would be brought into force to prevent the spreading of ‘Gay Propaganda’ to those under 18 years of age, the banning of any activities promoting ‘non-traditional relationships’ and any activity promoting the idea of equality between ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ relationships. The act, if passed by the upper house of the Russian Government would see individuals face fines of £100 for breaking this law with organisations being liable to fines of up to £20’000 for breaking the law. President Vladimir Putin has already voiced his support for the bill.
During a protest outside the Russian government buildings, members of the LGBT community were harassed by members of the Russian Orthodox Christian community, who threw eggs, nettles and urine at them as they attempted to stage a ‘kissing protest’. Russian law has been becoming recently more vehemently anti-gay as laws aimed at tackling ‘Gay Propaganda’ have been coming into effect. Gay Pride parades and gay rallies have also been banned by Moscow as policy, with Russian ministers quoted as saying; “Gay rallies are a place for Satanists.”
The recent legislation has been responsible for a growth in anti-gay activity in Russia and neighbouring states, with many members of the gay communities being subjected to violent attacks. This desperate set of affairs has seen many Russians leaving their home country already for fear of persecution, this number can only be expected to increase when this new legislation is brought into place. However, much of this legislation has also been in place in regions of Russia for some time, this national legislation is not necessarily a new idea.#
Being openly gay in Russia has become harder and harder over the recent years, with many Russians, in a recent survey, feeling that gay people should be “treated for their illness”, recently a Russian TV presenter was fired for publicly announcing his homosexuality and there are increasingly few openly gay people holding public offices. President Putin has affirmed that Russian laws do not discriminate homosexuals in anyway, however with this new law coming in, it will be illegal to even suggest that a same sex relationship is equal to that of a heterosexual relationship.
As new laws like this are brought in, complying with the religious guidelines of the Orthodox Church, it becomes increasingly difficult for any kind of group advocating social equality in Russia to operate. There are many things that can be said about the Soviet Union, but at least in the USSR, religion played no part in law, the state was completely secularised, there was no discrimination on base of sexuality written into law, in short, all human beings were equal in the eyes of the law. As the Orthodox church begins to play a bigger and bigger role in the Russian state, so many decades of hard work for social and religious equality and freedom are being eroded by a select few at the top, who dictate what can be believed, what constitutes correct behaviour and what constitutes an ‘acceptable’ relationship.
The new law, dubbed as ‘wrong’ by many Russians is a sign of the truly corrupt and authoritarian rule of the Putin government over the Russian people. The Russian people are beginning to feel ever more detached from the government in Moscow, seemingly controlled by the wills of a very select few people, in the hands of Putin and the Church. The growing presence of the church is another concern, as the Church plays a larger and larger role in policy making, it is likely that more and more policies discriminating against more groups are on the horizon.
As Russia’s policy becomes more Church and ‘traditionalist’ orientated, it is likely we will see Russia being alienated further from the Western states in Europe. Russia, once a European power, will begin to see itself further sidelined on the European stage, amid the secularised Western democracies, becoming another corrupted religious dictatorship to be viewed with suspicion by the rest of Europe. Russia, the state with the second largest party being the Communist Party, is throwing away decades of work for social justice.
I cannot say what more is to come, but the future for Russia does look bleak. It almost seems as though they are going backwards; while European states are passing laws legalising the marriage of same sex couples, Russia is outlawing its so-called ‘gay propaganda’ and demeaning the relationships of gay couples as ‘not normal’. It’s a truly sad event, but just one more blow in a long line of attacks against the gay community by the Russian government.
I’m sorry, this was somewhat rushed and not a full post, I just saw the article on facebook and thought it deserved some attention.
Thanks for reading, and, as usual, if you have any questions or points, please carry on the discussion in the comments section.