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.
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?