The United States of America legalized gay marriage in all 50 states while a man in Russia is in prison for violating the country’s “gay propaganda” law.
America is so widely regarded as an advocate for democracy that we’ve gotten accustomed to assuming the rest of the world seeks to follow our example in other respects as well.
Like the United States, Russia is regarded as one of the world’s superpowers, being a P5 nation and having the 10th largest nominal GDP in the world.
On the topic of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) rights, however, Russia couldn’t be any more different.
As reported on Human Rights Watch, on January 19, Russia’s parliament held “the first reading of another abusive, homophobic law, which proposes jailing people for public displays of non-heterosexual orientation or gender activity.”
This bill was first introduced in October 2015 by Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev, two Communist party members.
Nikitchuk was quoted in comparing giving rights to gay people as similar to giving rights to someone who wants to “piss in the street.”
According to Foreign Policy, he believes homosexuality only exists in his country because the West has forced its “demonic desires” unto the rest of the world.
Regardless of whether or not this comes as surprising to you, you certainly aren’t alone.
In the weekly discussion at Iris house that was co-sponsored by Amnesty International, the crowd’s response was a tainted with astonishment but also a desire to understand.
Matt Giso, Amnesty International’s President, summed it up nicely when he said that “while we do have polls and approval ratings, we can never truly know what it must feel like to come from Russia at a time when they are debating these laws.”
The discussion reached the consensus that while there was definitely a lot more to be done in the supporting members of LGBTQ+ community, we need to remember to exercise caution and be aware of our actions in the context of the international community.