Bad news from Russia

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.


  1. says

    Tragic. That vote is shocking.

    There’s a book that came out a little while ago, Day of the Oprichnik, set in a dystopian future in which, amongst other authoritarian political developments, the Orthodox Church has regained power. (I haven’t read it, but I think it just moved back up on my list. I would love to hear reviews from anyone who has read it.) Reading a review of it when it was first published was the first indication I saw that some people in Russia saw this as a trend (and then there was Pussy Riot…).

    From my brief internet research, it seems Russia has been culturally and legally antigay before, during, and after Communism.

  2. says

    The UK almost went this way with the infamous section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, which stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

    No prosecutions were ever brought under this section of the Act, although it did have a chilling effect.

    Thankfully, it was repealed in 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in England and Wales, and now even the party that introduced it admits is was wrong.

    By the sound of things, there is unlikely to be such a happy outcome in Russia.

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