States that are embracing modernity tend to be moving in the direction of greater acceptance of equal rights for the LGBT community. But Russia is clearly going in the other direction. By a vote of 436-0, the Russian Duma has passed an anti-gay bill that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. It seems likely that it will pass the upper house and be signed into law by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The document now states that “propaganda” of gay relationships includes, “spreading information aimed at forming non- traditional sexual behaviour among children, suggesting this behaviour is attractive and making a false statement about the socially equal nature of traditional and non-traditional relationships”.
Gay-rights rallies and gay-pride marches have been banned in Russia as a matter of policy and the former Moscow Mayor famously referred to gay rallies as “a place for Satanists”. Surveys frequently show that many Russians feel gay people should be “treated” and there are almost no openly gay public figures. A television presenter, Anton Krasovsky, was fired earlier this year shortly after announcing his homosexuality on television. Mr Putin said recently that Russian laws do not discriminate against gay people in any way, but when the new bill comes into force it will be illegal to suggest that homosexuality is a normal life choice.
I am not sure what is driving this. It could be due to the Russian Orthodox Church whose patriarch Kirill seems like an awful person who has railed against feminism and same-sex marriage and advocated for blasphemy laws. It is amazing that he still has influence after being revealed as a brazen liar and a hypocrite.
Is this a sign of resurgence of medieval religious thinking and institutions in Russia? It would be great if someone with knowledge of the forces at play in Russia could chime in and let us know more about what is going on.