News / Europe

Russian Conservatism on Gay Issues Provokes Clash With West

Russian Conservatism on Gay Issues Provokes Clash With Westi
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September 05, 2013
Gay marriage is increasingly legal in Europe and gay pride parades are massive events in European capitals. VOA's James Brooke takes a look at how gays are faring in Russia, sometimes seen as Europe’s largest nation.
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— Gay marriage is increasingly legal in Europe. Gay parades are massive events in European capitals. So how are gays faring in Russia, sometimes seen as Europe’s largest nation?

In Russia, Max “The Hatchet” cruises gay Internet dating sites and then lures young gay men for “re-education” sessions at the hands of his “neo-Nazis.”
 
Max’s group, Occupy Pedophilia, has spread to five Russian cities.
 
Police look the other way.
 
Levada Center sociologist Maria Plotko says that nearly half of Russians interviewed recently by pollsters say police should not protect gays from attacks.
 
“Public opinion in Russia shows us that the homophobia, the rate of homophobia, is pretty high. And I think it is the influence of strong propaganda,” says Plotko.
 
Levada’s polls show that Russians became more conservative about homosexuality over the last decade. Over 80 percent oppose gay parades and gay marriage. Two-thirds back President Vladimir Putin’s new “anti-gay propaganda law.”
 
For many gay Russians, the way out is the airport.
 
Vitaly, a Moscow student, said this of his gay university friends:
 
"Nearly every [gay] student wants to leave or knows the ways, and in case of emergency we can and we will emigrate to any better country," said Vitaly.
 
Anton Krasovsky came out as gay on his TV show to protest the anti-gay law. Within hours, he was fired. Now, he gets letters from gays all over Russia.
 
He says people write about being fired from their jobs, being watched by neighbors, beaten in buses and in apartment building stairwells. He adds that attackers know that Russia’s police will not intervene.
 
Posted on the Internet, many gay attack videos have been seen around the world.
 
In the United States and Europe, they have sparked anti-Putin protests, like one in Amsterdam in late August, with the city mayor saying that "Love is not propaganda."
 
But, Alina Alieva, a Russian tourist who was near the demonstration, told a reporter that Europeans should mind their own business.
 
“They shouldn’t do this because it can worsen the situation. We have different countries and we have different situations and different histories between these countries,” said Alieva.
 
Sochi as test case

To protest Russia’s conservatism on homosexuality, gay activists are targeting the Winter Olympics, which will be held next February in Sochi, Russia.
 
Some are pushing for a boycott.
 
Anton Krasovsky, the gay television journalist, calls for protests - during the Olympics.
 
He says the Olympics can be educational. If athletes parade waving rainbow flags, that will be more helpful for Russian gays and lesbians in Russia than a boycott, says he.
 
Pollster Masha Plotko predicts foreign pressure will backfire.
 
“If you don't like our law, if you don't respect us, okay you can boycott it. But other countries will come,” says Plotko.
 
In Moscow, many analysts say that foreign protests play into the hands of President Putin. Foreign pressure will provoke Russians to close ranks with the Kremlin.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

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by: Jason Chenard from: New Hampshire, USA
September 05, 2013 1:02 PM
The sad state of affairs in Russia aside, reading the comments on this article is a truly depressing exercise. It's astonishing that so many people are still so ignorant and bigoted, in an era where scientific information is so readily accessible.

And to those of you who still think that homosexuality is a 'choice' or a 'lifestyle': You're wrong, and also FYI, you won't fall off the edge if you sail too far from shore.

Pathetic.


by: Mary Waterton from: USA
September 05, 2013 11:38 AM
I never thought I'd see the day when I'd have to admit that Russians have better morals than Americans & Europeans - but it's happened. Things have gone seriously wrong in the west.

In Los Angeles, CA (where I live) they are teaching homosexuality to children as young as (((5))) in the public schools. It's clearly a recruiting operation. I've seen it firsthand and it's enough to make you want to vomit. The only recourse you have is to send your child to private school.

Russia has it right. America has it wrong.

In Response

by: DataJack from: USA
September 05, 2013 1:07 PM
Oh Mary, you know that is not true. There is no such thing as "teaching homosexuality". Are they teaching these 5 year olds sex positions in LA (where you live)? No, they aren't. Didn't that long-haired bearded gentleman who started your religion (and who was so very much nicer than you) have something to say about lying?

Also, luckily for you, you now have another recourse besides sending your child to private school. You can move to Russia!
A government persecuting it citizenry is wrong. It is never "moral" to persecute people.


by: Lara
September 05, 2013 9:10 AM
Hey, guys, that issue is not about homosexuality, it's about rights!.. I'm straight, if you are concerned.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 04, 2013 11:47 PM
It is the fact that there exist those who prefer homosexuality. Imaginning if I were homosexual, what should I do to get my approval of identification from heterosexual others most effectively? I I suppose it would not be to claim our rights loudly like on demonstrations but to account for our own tastes calmly.Thank you.


by: DataJack from: USA
September 04, 2013 7:55 PM
This is not "Russian conservatism". This is Russian Bigotry. How would the world responds if Russia replaced "gays" with "Jews", "blacks", or "Catholics"?

In Response

by: DataJack from: USA
September 05, 2013 1:14 PM
Oh, Mary, your bigotry and dishonesty are so unflattering on you. You should try a new look. Homosexuality is not a new race, nor is it a life style choice (anymore than heterosexuality is a life style choice). It is more akin to being left-handed. Or Blonde. You can choose to hide those things if you wanted to, or had to. But why should you?
Persecuting people because they are different is wrong.

In Response

by: Mary Waterton from: USA
September 05, 2013 11:41 AM
Homosexuals are not a newly discovered race. It's a lifestyle choice ..... like smoking, drinking, taking drugs, visiting prostitutes, etc.


by: lon reg from: australia
September 04, 2013 7:52 PM
youd be surprized how many western people applaud russian stance.

In Response

by: socal1200r from: USA
September 05, 2013 10:50 AM
Good for Putin and Russia, for standing up to the LGBT freak show. Hope they stay the course during the Olympics at Sochi, and detain/deport any openly LGBT pervs that show up.

In Response

by: DataJack from: USA
September 04, 2013 8:23 PM
And every one of them is wrong, bigoted, and immoral to do so. Legislating away civil rights from a group because they are not in compliance with the majority is undemocratic.


by: Dee from: los angeles
September 04, 2013 7:48 PM
What do we care how Russia feels about this issue? Gays are fine in Russia as long as they stay away from children and that's the way it should be here. They are ahead of us on this issue. Ask yourself why gays are so eager to go into the schools? Since being gay is about who you like to have sex with and kids are underage, what's the point? Who are we to force our views on other people and other cultures? This is just another version of the ugly American and something that was never American before.....censorship of those who disagree with those who have a stranglehold on popular culture.

In Response

by: DataJack from: USA
September 04, 2013 8:31 PM
Actually, we care if any country discriminates against its own citizens. Also, this has nothing to do with children, really. Also, ask yourself, why do you feel compelled to tell complete lies ("gays are so eager to go into the schools?") in order to denigrate people you have never met, who have never done anything to you?
Also: expressing an opinion that someone is being bigoted (especially when the ARE being bigoted) is not censorship. Really.
You are right about the gays having a stranglehold on pop culture though: We get time off for their holidays (Christmas and Easter), most of us don't work on their holy day (Sunday), their motto is on our money ("In God We Trust"), their prayers are said before congress and many state and local assemblies...oh, wait. That's not gays. It's you.


by: Mortran from: West-Germany
September 04, 2013 7:45 PM
What is this American obsession about gay rights about? A nation that discriminates and persecutes sex-workers and finances hate-monger campaigns against prostitution has no moral ground to criticize other countries for their stance on homosexuality.

In Response

by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet-Africa
September 07, 2013 4:35 AM
God bless you Mortra from West-Germany and May God bless the great Vlademir Putin of Russia


by: Phil from: CNY
September 04, 2013 7:45 PM
God Bless Putin

In Response

by: DataJack from: USA
September 04, 2013 8:36 PM
Does your god really bless people for institutionalizing discrimination? Does he bless the skin head street gangs for beating people up, too? How about the Russian cops who look the other way when the skin heads are beating up one of the citizens they are sworn to protect? Do they get blessed, too?
Congratulations! You share a god with Hitler. Well done.


by: rltmd317 from: USA
September 04, 2013 7:37 PM
What a lot of the backward world does not seem to understand relationships between the same sexes has been going on since the beginning of time. I am not particularly promoting it just to allow young people to make their own decision without external pressures. I am in my sixties and have known and been friends with gay men for most of my life. My stance has always been whatever makes you happy. And as a heterosexual male there is less competition is a good thing.

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