News / Europe

Russian Laws Keep Gay Life Behind Closed Doors

Russian Laws Keep Gay Life Behind Closed Doorsi
|| 0:00:00
X
James Brooke
July 16, 2012 7:51 PM
St. Petersburg is often seen as Russia’s most liberal city, but it may be leading a conservative movement against public displays of gay life in Russia. VOA's James Brooke reports from Moscow.

Russian Laws Keep Gay Life Behind Closed Doors

James Brooke
MOSCOW — Saint Petersburg has long been seen as Russia’s most liberal city.  But now it may be leading a national movement to ban public displays of gay life across Russia.

When gay rights activists recently released a rainbow of balloons from a Saint Petersburg park, the predictable happened.  City police herded activists into a waiting bus.  Then, black-shirted nationalists attacked the bus.

In March, Saint Petersburg, Europe’s fourth largest city, banned any public display of “gay propaganda.”  Now, Russian legislators are debating adopting a nationwide ban.  The goal is to keep gay life behind closed doors, out of the sight of children.

A gay pride march last month in Berlin shows Russia is a target of the international gay rights movement.  As 700,000 Berliners watched or paraded, a cannon shot a rainbow of colored confetti at Russia’s embassy.

But 1,300 kilometers to the east, here in Saint Petersburg, no one is laughing.

Artem makes a specialty of tracking down gay rallies and breaking them up.

To him, gay parades and posters, gay-themed talk shows and art shows all add up to undermining traditional Russian society with the gay lifestyle.

He says that Russia will never permit open displays of what he calls “filth.”

Once Artem is out of sight, Olga and Irina step from behind the bushes to talk. Olga says that she and her partner of seven years are not recruiting converts.  They are simply looking for tolerance, equal rights and the ability to get married.

With no tolerance for gays on the horizon in Russia, Olga and Irina plan to move next year across the Gulf of Finland, to Helsinki.  There, this couple of seven years can register their partnership and legally adopt a child.

Downtown, Olga Lenkova works with Vykhod, or Coming Out, a gay rights group. She says the new law is changing life for gays in Saint Petersburg, long seen as Russia’s most liberal major city:

“Part of the community just goes back into the closest and tries to hide even more than they did before.  And, part of the community becomes more active than they ever were, or becomes active for the first time,” Lenkova said.

For now, the gay movement’s biggest allies are from outside Russia.

Early this month, Lenkova was one of several Saint Petersburg activists who met with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
 
Next it will be Madonna, who gives a concert here on August 9.  In advance, the American pop star has denounced Saint Petersburg’s “gay gag law” as “a ridiculous atrocity.”

But with polls showing big majorities of Russians backing bans on public displays of gay life, Russian police may be breaking up gay rallies for a long time to come.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Augis
July 18, 2012 9:36 AM
Homophobia is ubiquitous in Russia. Actually, this is official agenda in modern Russia. The interesting thing not mentioned in this post is that in Saint Petersburg the same law imposes fines for "gay propaganda" and "propaganda of pedophilia" - that is in the same legislation homosexuality is equaled to pedophilia.

Also notable are recent comments of Sergey Lavrov (Minister of Foreign Affairs) who said that Russian society will never accept homosexuality - http://redhotrussia.com/homophobia-in-russia/


by: Lara
July 17, 2012 12:34 PM
Don't argue,guys!people in Russia will soon have no rights,anyway!thanks to Tsar Putin.


by: Bruce from: Ann Arbor, MI
July 16, 2012 11:29 PM
Is Trinidad as homophobic as people say?


by: Sergey from: Dallas
July 16, 2012 10:57 PM
I love it how people like to speak for the entire nation. Such laws are governments decision no the peoples. In the west no one knows what common Russians think of same sex marriage but people sure love to make stuff up. Last two generations of Russians are very evolved far beyond their government. They do not care enough about gay rights to make a big deal about it, however many are not against it. Some of the older generation with in the government and ruling elite allow their personal believes to cloud over their judgement in this pursuit of ban on gay marriage. Really it's almost like in any other western country. Only deference is that the west got a decade or two of head start.


by: Bruno from: trinidade
July 16, 2012 8:52 PM
Mike they have equal rights. They have the right to private life behind close doors. You speak of democracy then why are against the majority of Russians in support of such laws? They may happy seek life style they wish in west. Russia on other hand does not want it openly


by: Mike
July 16, 2012 4:52 PM
Tsar Putin's authoritarian Russia will never allow gays to have equal rights with other citizens of the country. Similarly, there were Nazis in Hitler's Germany and the communist authorities in the Soviet Union, where homosexuality was a crime. When Russia becomes a democratic country, then gays will be able to live a normal life in this country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid