Gay rights in Russia - a miserable issue Euronews

President Vladimir Putin signed the law prohibiting the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” on June 31. Individuals who violate the law can face fines up to 5,000 roubles (118€), while officials risk paying 10 times that amount. Foreigners who will try to promote gay rights against the law will be arrested and immediately deported.

From this aspect, life for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) is becoming extremely difficult in Russia, if not even impossible nowadays. The number of suicides among LGBT can considerably increase, and in general, living in the society will become more dangerous through intolerant citizens. Vladimir Lukin, Russia's commissioner of human rights, warned that the ban could lead to "human victims and human tragedy."

Russian anti-gay preconceptions

Recent poll by the independent Levada Center found that 22 percent of Russians said that gay people need to be cured, 16 percent insist on isolating them from the society, 27 percent said that gay people need psychological help. 86 percent of the respondents said that they had no gay friends. At the same time, 26 percent said that they have an aversion or fear towards gay people.

Before the law was implemented the situation around LGBT rights in Russia was also not very peaceful. Gay people were very often attacked by homophobes and in general homophobia was the motive for some cruel murders in Russia. A television presenter, Anton Krasovsky, was fired earlier this year shortly after announcing his homosexuality on television saying that “I am gay but for all that I am a person as you, my dear viewers, as president Putin, as premier Medvedev and as State Duma deputies”.

When the lawmakers were preparing to pass a bill banning homosexual "propaganda" on the 11th of June, about 20 gay-rights activists were arrested after holding a "kissing protest" outside the parliament building. Gay activists were surrounded also by a much-larger group of antigay protesters who chanted "Russia is not Sodom" and sang Orthodox Christian prayers. They threw rotten eggs at the gay protesters. A Gay Pride took place on the 29th of June 2013 on the Field of Mars in Saint-Petersburg and before the peaceful rally took place, the Government of Saint-Petersburg was informed about the upcoming event despite this fact after some time more than 50 activists were arrested by the riot police.

Publishing about gay people and the Russian public opinion in comparison with European trends

Popular Russian magazine “Afisha”, which covers city events, entertainment in the biggest Russian cities, devoted the great part of its March issue №339 to the stories about gay people. The whole front page of the magazine was, at the same time, covered by a rainbow. In this special edition, the readers could find 27 stories about gay people with different social status, from the plumbing specialist to the chief editor. An interesting survey taken in Moscow, revealing people’s opinion about gay people was also published on these pages.

Sometimes it seems that there is no acceptance at all for gay rights among Russians. Indeed, in comparison with other European countries, there is even much less support to them. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, only 16 percent of Russians consider that the society should accept homosexuality, comparing to the 88 percent in Spain, 87 percent in Germany, 77 and 76 percent in France and Britain and only 42 percent in Poland.

Although it may seem an unsuitable time for publishing Russia’s first young adult book against anti-LGBT prejudice but the book “The Jester’s Cap” by Daria Wilke appeared in the Russian book sale in June. “The Moscow News” wrote about it at the beginning of July, mentioning that the “Jester’s Cap” is already in the top three of publisher Samokat’s books in sales at Biblio Globus in Moscow, which is really a big success for a book with the relatively high price of 269 roubles (6 €). The writer dedicates her book to the experience of the homosexual teenager and to the problems he is facing.

Anti-gay law in Russia is the most disputable issue mostly only from outside of the country, since the majority of Russians are eager to support it. According to the recent survey by the state-run Vtsiom polling center, 88% of respondents said they agree with the ban. The most surprising thing connected with the law banning gay propaganda in Russia is the support and admiration of it amongst some US conservatives. The president of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, Peter LaBarbera, said on his website: “Russians do not want to follow America’s reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion, sexual perversion, and anti-biblical ideologies to youth”.