Anti-Gay Violence Skyrocketing in Russia

A new study shows what has been obvious to anyone paying attention for a long time, that anti-gay violence has become epidemic in Russia as religious and political authorities make gay people the scapegoat du jour with lurid tales of the need to “protect the children.”

Ever since virulently homophobic Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed through a law effectively outlawing openly gay people, the country’s LGBTQ community has, predictably, been plagued by violence. Now a study published in Harvard University’s Health and Human Rights journal confirms what myriad horrific anecdotes suggest: Gay people in Russia are being beaten, raped, and murdered at record rates—and the government is doing little to stop it.

The issue of violence against gays in Russia is, of course, nothing new. Before the passage of the new federal measure, several regional governments passed identical laws, stripping gay citizens of legal rights and human dignity. More than one-half of Russian gays reported psychological abuse, while 16 percent experienced physical assault, and 7 percent were raped. Yet 77 percent also reported complete distrust of the police, leaving most anti-gay crimes unreported.

Putin’s law has only darkened this already bleak picture. By putting the government’s stamp of approval on rampant Russian homophobia, Putin effectively declared open season on gay people. As the Harvard study notes, violence against gays in Russia isn’t considered violence at all; rather, it’s thought of as a way for young males to prove their own heterosexuality—while simultaneously cleansing society of an aberrant, pedophilic community.

Putin didn’t introduce homophobia to Russia. But his crusade against the gay community has direly exacerbated the country’s already suffocating haze of anti-gay bigotry and ignorance. A strong and confident leader could have helped the country move beyond its antediluvian conceptions of sexuality and gender. Instead, the paranoid Putin has used gays as a common enemy and a scapegoat. He might have scored political points with this stunt, both in his own country and in the West. But the toll of his intolerance is currently being paid in human lives.

But bigots like Putin don’t see gay people as human, nor do the many American defenders of his brutal, totalitarian assault on human rights and equality. The primal scream of “we must protect the children” is almost always a cover for the fascist impulse.

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  • Chiroptera

    Gay people in Russia are being beaten, raped, and murdered at record rates—and the government is doing little to stop it.

    In the United States, we call this, “protecting the religious freedom of Christians.”

  • tmscott

    In order to have a more cohesive “Us”, he needs an antagonistic “Them”. At the risk of being labeled a godwin, that’s the same sort of tribalistic nonsense used by the nazis.

  • colnago80

    You know who else who didn’t like homosexuals? Schickelgruber.

  • royandale

    It’s the same tribalistic nonsense that’s been used by despots since forever. The methods don’t change, only the particulars of the “us” and the “them.”

  • marcus

    @2 I think it is forgivable to compare actual fascism to actual fascism. It is not just an analogy, it is the same process, just separated by time and geography.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    The primal scream of “we must protect the children” is almost always a cover for the fascist impulse.

    If not for that “almost”, our esteemed host would soon receive a very disappointed message from (among others) the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

  • chilidog99

    It’s always convenient to have a scapegoat. Since you can’t use the Jews anymore, and the Muslims get too violent, the gays are perfect. {/snark}

  • kevinalexander

    Look at what theRussian Army did to Chechnya. I think they went after the Muslims first. Still plenty of time to go after the Jews.

    Us against them.

  • busterggi

    Ras-Putin – the new theocratically approved tsar. The US Religious Reich is so jealous.

  • sh3baproject

    “protect the kids”

    by teaching them to be violent killers? wow the backwardness of russia just blows my mind.

  • Barefoot Bree

    Does anyone now if homosexuality, and coming from Russia or Uganda or others, is a valid reason for asylum in the US or anywhere in Europe?

  • Barefoot Bree

    *know. That’s what I get for trying to type around this big bowl of soup.

  • Nick Gotts

    Barefoot Bree@11,

    Fear of persecution on grounds of sexual orientation is a valid ground for asylum in the UK, although in practice many of those seeking asylum on those grounds are refused, with disbelief and inappropriate, harassing questioning on behalf of the authorities being routine. (Not that such disbelief and questioning is at all unusual for asylum seekers of any kind in the UK.)

  • grumpyoldfart

    Luckily the vast majority of Russians are loudly protesting this cruel behaviour and demanding that it stop immediately.

  • leonardschneider

    “…cleansing society of an aberrant, pedophilic community.”

    Oh fucking hell. Not that bullshit again.

    Given his rampant homophobia, I can’t help but wonder if Putin was molested as a child.

    Hear me out here. Many of the most virulent homophobes I’ve come across were victims of molestation as children. Their rationale is not that “Mr. X assaulted me because I was a kid,” but “Mr. X assaulted me because I have a penis. Therefore, Mr. X is interested in penises.” (Never mind that pedophiles, in their “normal” relationships, are almost invariably heterosexual.) So they grow up with the frame of mind that since someone was interested in their penis when they were a child, any male who is turned on by other males is also turned on by anything with a penis, including children.

    I got into a fight at a party over this misconception once. I think the subject was along the lines of, “They shouldn’t have faggots teaching in schools.”

    Oh really, why not?

    “Because they’ll try to molest the fuckin’ kids! They’ll be trying to go after the little boys!!”

    Um, but they’re queer, not child molesters. Why do you think they’d go after the kids?

    “Because [see logic explained above, only more drawn out and drunker].”

    But that’s bullshit. By your way of thinking, you, and him, and him, and me, should all be trying to get our jollies from little girls.

    ” ….. ”

    I mean, you don’t get turned on by little girls, right?

    Fuck you!!” And he came out of his chair.

    I came out of mine and told him, Look, sit back down and we can keep talking, or you can throw down on me. Right now I don’t give a fuck which. (I was riled up too.)

    He threw down, so did I.

    It really didn’t last long, maybe ten seconds of us trying to connect with the other guy’s head. Our mutual friends bulldogged the both of us and got us well separated. He took off from the party not long after. Later, a guy who’d been in the room during our exchange asked me, “Are you serious about gays not liking little kids?”

    Fuck yeah. Seriously, queers don’t dig little boys any more than straight guys dig little girls. Pedophiles are… They’re a whole different thing. Hell, when they’re being normal, they fuck grown women.

    “Huh. I never knew that.”

    Dead truth, man.


    Hey, one less misinformed person in the world.

  • Hatchetfish

    With 6 in mind, “The [justification for legislation] of ‘we must protect the children’ is almost always a cover for the fascist impulse.”

  • Raging Bee

    Notice how so few people (other than demented bigots) are bragging about how wonderful things are in the former USSR since St. Ronald brought about the fall of Communism? It’s still a wretched mess of failed states run by KGB thugs and sending even the mildest dissenters off to Siberia. The biggest difference now is that the thugs have the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church. (See how much better religion makes things? Me neither.) Seriously, how dumb and brittle do you have to be to feel threatened by the antics of a group like Pussy Riot?