Bigotry, Violence Explodes in Russia

As bad as things often are for the LGBT community in this country, they appear to be considerably worse in Russia. A bill to forbid “homosexual propaganda” is on the verge of becoming law and violence against gay people is getting even worse than in the already terrible past.

The ban on “homosexual propaganda among minors” has yet to become law in Russia—only its first draft has passed the lower chamber of the Russian parliament—but it has already become the most discussed subject in the Russian press and has claimed its first victims. A loyalist Russian television host was fired from the channel he co-founded after coming out on the air in protest, and beatings of gay men have spiked, including a chilling and well-planned attack on a gay club in Moscow…

All of this smacks of the Russian Empire’s “God, Tsar, and Country.” That motto was the expression, in many ways, of a wish for homogeneity in a sprawling empire encompassing hundreds of ethnic groups and languages, and coincided with a push for the Russification of non-Russian minorities, most notably the Jews. It would happen again in Soviet times with Central Asian Muslims.

The imposition of Russian traditionalism, in other words, is not a coincidence, nor is the attendant rise in violent Russian nationalism…

The perception of homosexuality in Russia is that it’s both a perversion of nature and a fashion import from the corrupt West: something into which a man can slip if he’s had a bit too much vodka—by all accounts a common occurrence in Russia—and as a posture one adopts to be cool. Thus, the “propaganda” ban. Homosexuality is seen as an aggressive ad campaign that, traditionalists fear, will persuade impressionable young minds that being gay not only isn’t abnormal and abhorrent, but stylish and hip. The idea that homosexuality is a natural and innate phenomenon, needless to say, has not gained traction here outside of small circles among the educated. Even there, it’s rare.

And ThinkProgress reports that it’s even affecting the Olympics:

Even if the legislation doesn’t pass (it is expected to), Russia has already taken steps to fight homosexuality in its society and at its Olympics. Last year, a Russian judge banned the national Olympic committee from setting up a Pride House, a feature of the past several Olympics that hosts LGBT athletes. A Pride House, the judge wrote, would “undermine the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation” because it “contradict[s] the basics of public morality and the policy of the state in the area of family motherhood and childhood protection.”

Gosh, that rhetoric sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

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  • busterggi

    More fatwa envy for the US’s fundies.

  • It is my understanding that, for the duration of the Olympics, the Olympic Village is diplomatically and legally “international waters” under the direct jurisdiction of the International Olympic Committee. So can Russia actually prohibit the establishment of a Pride House? Has the IOC responded to this?

    In a related question, can a nation hosting the Olympics ban athletes it considers “undesireable” from crossing its borders? Could Russia, say, create a list of all openly gay or bisexual athletes, and athletes on record as supporting LGBT rights, and forbid them from coming into Russia to compete at the Olympics? Realistically, what would happen if they did?

  • laurentweppe

    Realistically, what would happen if they did?

    I suppose it would not be so difficult to allow the gay athletes to compete & win medals under another flag.

  • So much for the theory that the Rooskie commies* and gays are in cahoots together to create a Stalinist/gay/Muslim paradise in ‘Murka.

    * They’ll always be commies to the Teabirchers.

  • Realistically, what would happen if they did?

    IIRC, it would not be the first time that the IOC has just said ‘Fine, then we’re doing it elsewhere. Goodbye.”

  • baal

    “Gosh, that rhetoric sounds familiar, doesn’t it?”

    Yes, it does. Even were I not inclined to support LGBT issues, I would still support those issues out of concern for myself as an atheist. Religionists in power don’t like either group (and more) very much and would be more than happy to carry out the violence against atheists. On the plus side, it’s relatively easy to hide in the atheist closet*.

    *Since I’m not all that clear about my atheism at work as it is. Especially since I don’t really want the xtians at work going nuts and refusing to work with me or to have them spike promotions and reviews.

  • Olav

    Baal #6:

    *Since I’m not all that clear about my atheism at work as it is. Especially since I don’t really want the xtians at work going nuts and refusing to work with me or to have them spike promotions and reviews.

    By the sound of it, you are in need of another job.

  • Trickster Goddess

    I hope some gold winning out or ally athlete decides to wrap themselves in a rainbow flag as they step up to the podium.

  • sillose

    its almost like people think the IOC has integrity. how adorable!

  • Draken

    Yeah, ever since that fascist Juan Antonio Samaranch was the IOC’s foreman, my trust in that club has not become terribly impressive.

  • frog

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if a number of prominent countries, alarmed at this resurgence of old-school Tsarist-style Russia, decided to skip the 2014 Olympics? (It’s probably too soon for that to develop. But the world is often surprising.)

    If Putin (or whoever) has a brain in his head, he won’t go after their Central Asian Muslim population. Unlike the USA, Russia is on a contiguous landmass with lots and lots of angry, disaffected Muslim fundamentalists who I’m sure would be happy to go after more accessible targets. It’s not very hard to turn the goal from “Kill all Westerners, because they are heretics and oppress Islam” to “Kill all who oppress Islam, particularly these dudes who are right over here.”