Russia on verge of banning pro-gay speech; jailing gay (and pro-gay) tourists, businesspeople

Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues its decline into third world dictatorship and despotism today with the passage of legislation in the lower house (the State Duma) which bans the public display of anything pro-gay, including words.

The law would also permit the government to jail gay foreigners for up to two weeks before throwing them out of the country.

In true Soviet fashion, the legislation passed unanimously, 436-0.  And the bill has widespread support in the Federation Council, where it goes next. Putin is then expected to sign it.

Per the WSJ, the law will literally make it a crime to even speak in defense of gay rights, or to say that gay relationships are equal to straight ones.

As part of its downward spiral into irrelevancy since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Putin’s Russia is doing the usual striking out at minorities that Russia, and most dictatorships and authoritarian states, are famous for.  In the past it was Jews, now it’s gay people.

Russian police attack gay protesters outside the State Duma today. (A href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pLSd-e2Vi-g#!">Video by Dmitry Zykov)

Russian police attack gay protesters during a “kiss-in” outside the State Duma today. (Video by Dmitry Zykov)

Putin decided years ago to scapegoat Russian gays as the new Jews

Russian police routinely beat up Gay Pride protesters, and Moscow banned Gay Pride parades for the next 100 years.  And St. Petersburg banned the mention of anything pro-gay, even wearing rainbow suspenders, which got one activist arrested in that city.  Russia is also now clamping down on foreign adoptions, but particularly adoptions by gay people.

Rainbow suspenders, banned in St. Petersburg, soon to be illegal in all of Russia. (Tomasz Bidermann / Shutterstock.com)

Rainbow suspenders, banned in St. Petersburg, soon to be illegal in all of Russia. (Tomasz Bidermann / Shutterstock.com)

Towleroad has a horrific photo of a Russian gay rights activist being attacked by anti-gay Russians. You can also see a nasty series of photos of Russians, with police complicity, beating up gay protesters today.

It’s funny, because it’s not like gays have all of our civil rights here in America either.  But then again, we don’t generally treat gay people like dogs.  Leave it to Russia to successfully point out the difference between discrimination and despotism.

Nazis: $62 fine. Gays: $31,000 fine.

Back to the latest outrage. Local Russian activists point out that the law bans “non-traditional sexual relations,” and any effort to promote them, which can be as simply as saying you are gay, or saying that being gay is okay.  The law provides for fines up to 1 million rubles, or about $31,000.

To contrast, Russian law also bans the propaganda and display of pro-Nazi sentiment, with a 2,000 ruble fine, or $62.

So just to recap: Russia thinks being a Nazi is worth a $62 fine. And being gay is worth a $31,000 fine.

Take a guess where their sentiments lie.

Law would imprison gay, and pro-gay, tourists, businesspeople

The law also provides for the imprisonment of foreign gays, or any foreigner who says or does anything that suggests that being gay is okay.  When the first gay-American tourist, or simply any American tourist, is thrown in a Russian prison for being gay, or simply being okay with gays, the proverbial sh*t is going to hit the fan.  But foreign businesses had better look out too.  Not just for their staff, but for their policies.  If a business has a non-discrimination policy that covers sexual orientation – or “worse,” partner benefits – that counts as pro-gay propaganda, especially if it has anything written on the topic.

Take Google, for instance, that has a lovely office in Moscow.  Are any of their staff gay?  Are any of their staff pro-gay?  Do Google’s employment policies say anything pro-gay, and is any of that information available in Moscow?  If it is, it will soon be a crime.  Here’s the soon-to-be crime scene, otherwise known as Google’s Moscow office:

The soon-to-be crime scene, otherwise known as Google's Moscow office.

The soon-to-be crime scene, otherwise known as Google’s Moscow office.

Microsoft has an office in Moscow too:

Microsoft-Moscow-Office

Putin was asked about his country’s Nazi-like fascination with bashing gays while visiting Amsterdam earlier this year.  In classic fashion, Putin invoked pedophilia:

“Can you imagine an organization promoting pedophilia in Russia? I think people in many Russian regions would have started to take up arms. The same is true for sexual minorities: I can hardly imagine same-sex marriages being allowed in Chechnya. Can you imagine it? It would have resulted in human casualties,” he said, according to state-run news service Ria-Novosti.

Russia govt-TV exec thinks gays heart should be burned

Well, I also can’t imagine that a country that barely survived the onslaught of the Nazis, and nearly a century of Soviet dictatorship, would then turn around and act like the very Nazis and Soviet despots it once fought.  But that’s Russia today:

Lawmakers have accused gays of decreasing Russia’s already low birth rates and said they should be barred from government jobs, undergo forced medical treatment or be exiled.

An executive with a government-run television network said in a nationally televised talk show that gays should be prohibited from donating blood, sperm and organs for transplants, while after their death their hearts should be burned or buried.

The bill’s adoption comes 20 years after a Stalinist-era law punishing homosexuality with up to five years in prison was removed from Russia’s penal code as part of the democratic reforms that followed the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Anyone who plans a vacation in Russia should have their head examined.  Same goes for business investment.  Russia is clearly not a democracy, nor is it a developed country.  But worse, these constant, and increasing, spasms of intolerance only go to show what a backwards and dangerous place Russia has become once again.

And anyone who attends the 2014 Olympics in Russia, that already have been marred by Russia’s, and the IOC’s anti-gay prejudice, should have their head examined.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • azro akin

    stoned or drunk,Putin and his followers are all SICK…great that i belong to a nation where respect and acceptance is highly considered to each and everyone…

  • Alex

    Everything you wrote here, is a dirty propaganda against Russia.Perverts have no barriers! Today is to be with same sex, tomorrow is to sleep with our kids and our pets.

  • Sweetie

    “And I’m sure the authorities can just make stuff up.”

    Generally the primary reason for the existence of draconian anti-gay policy.

  • Sweetie

    Russian culture flourished for a time, mostly in the 1920s. Then Stalin came to power, something it has never recovered from. Intellectuals, during the brief period of freedom, innovation, and creativity, actually sometimes had gay or bi relationships as an experiment. They generally didn’t work out well, but the willingness to try something new is something that was symptomatic (in a good way) of the period.

    Composers like Roslavets and Protopopov were developing new systems independently of Europeans like Schoenberg. Artists and filmmakers were making innovative work, some of it arguably superior to what the US was producing.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Good comment! Very few, except academics, understand the difference between Marxists, Bolsheviks and Stalinists.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    This is a state sponsored pogrom and reminds me of Stalinist terrorism. There should be an economic price to pay during the Russian Olympics, or will it be business as usual like the Nazi Olympics?

  • Annski1

    I wonder if we are going to hear from Johnny Weir on this topic. Being a child of the cold war I have always liked his iconoclastic admiration for Russian history. And of course immediately after the Russian revolution all laws against homosexuality were eliminated to be returned after lenin’s death by Stalin!! But now we need to hear from Johnny and his ex pat Russian boyfriend..as his Russian fans are huge in number

  • Annski1

    I wonder if we are going to hear from Johnny Weir on this topic. Being a child of the cold war I have always liked his iconoclastic admiration for Russian history. And of course immediately after the Russian revolution all laws against homosexuality were eliminated to be returned after lenin’s death by Stalin!! But now we need to hear from Johnny and his ex pat Russian boyfriend..as his Russian fans are huge in number

  • codyj

    my pal owns 2 fast food franchs..every year (summer) he hires guys n gals to work there via one of those intl staffing companies..he has had, teens from Japan, China, UK,etc, ..One year he had teens from Russia…never again…the guys,especially, insolent, refuse to do the tasks,cold n arrogant..with customers, def in another world

  • Thom Allen

    ” . . . after their death their hearts should be burned or buried.” Pray tell, Russkies, what do you do with dead people’s hearts in Russia now if not burning or burying? Add them to borscht? Put them in large matryoshka dolls? Hide them in the Lubyanka for old time’s sake?

    This Russian policy sounds suspiciously like that espoused by the Southern Evangelical preacher who wanted to put gays in prison camps. Then we’d become extinct cause we couldn’t have children.

    And if just telling children that there are gays in the world would cause them to become gay, why then in a generation or two EVERYONE would be gay. And we’re destroying religion and straight marriages, society, commerce, the space-time fabric. We’re so tremendously powerful we could just dematerialize all of the straight Russians, Republicans, neocons, conservatives, evangelicals and take over the world. Let’s all get a good night’s sleep. We have a lot to do tomorrow.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Every authoritarian regime, fascist or otherwise, needs its scapegoats. Looks like since Russia drove out nearly all of it’s Jews, now it’s going to ramp up on the gays.

    Over on this side of the world, it tends to be people with brown skin and Muslims.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Yes, what John said.

    The Russian authorities have made it clear that they can and will do what the homophobes in America dream of doing: Imprison or involuntarily commit anyone who is LGBT. Just look at what happened to Pussy Riot.

  • Bill_Perdue

    So did the Clintons and Obama. It’s bipartisan.

  • Bill_Perdue

    In a huge historic irony, hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews escaped discrimination in Russia and moved to Germany until the zionists intervened to stop it.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Replace Stalinist for every mention of Soviet and you’ll have the truth.

    The stalinists betrayed and deformed the USSR beginning in the late 1920s, murdering hundreds of thousands of Bolsheviks, and they reinstituted anti-gay laws at about the same time and for the same reason the tsarists had them – to scapegoat.

    For the most part the current leaders of the Russian Federation come from two sources, former Stalinist bureaucrats and a new layer of gangster business owners which exploded after the USSR dissolved from the russian criminal underground, a very powerful element, even during the Stalinist period.

  • http://fighttherightwingnuts.blogspot.com/ mike31c

    Glad I won’t be a tourist in this backwards nation.

  • nicho

    Boycotts don’t work –except in vary rare circumstances. It’s usually when the unions became involved. That’s why it was necessary for the corporatists to destroy the unions.

  • nicho

    For my part, I’m going to wait to see how SCOTUS rules on same-sex marriage before casting stones at any other countries. Homophobia is still alive and well in the US — even though people pretend it hasn’t.

  • runfastandwin

    Yes I remember the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. Those disagreements were over foreign policy, and at the time I wanted sports to transcend politics. But now that I am older and wiser I am afraid it was ever thus, and will ever be.

  • nicho

    We’ve been there before. In 1980 Jimmy Carter ordered a boycott of the summer olympics in the USSR because of their actions in Afghanistan, which — for the record — we goaded them into.

  • CPT_Doom

    So where is the nationwide call for a boycott? At the very least we should be removing all Russian-based liquors from all gay bars. We also need to have some sort of action centered on the Olympics – they’re only a few months away. Perhaps it’s also time to put some negative focus on any vendors who currently work with the Russian embassy here in DC – it the vendors have gay employees or pro-gay policies, they could be in trouble if/when they walk onto embassy property (as it is no longer covered by US law), so we should encourage them to simply stop providing services.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Can you take either a screen cap, or a photo with your phone, of the ad and email it to me? contact at americablog dot com

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    If they say or write anything, they can be carted off. And I’m sure the authorities can just make stuff up. Also, which I didn’t mention, this is meant to shut down any pro-gay organizations.

  • emjayay

    I can’t see this doing much for tourism, and I hope gay and human rights groups will sponsor a boycott. Oh and by the way there is an ad covering this box and in fact I am typing blind under it now.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Plus they drink waaaaay to much fermented potato.

  • emjayay

    They are still in the Middle Ages in many ways. The Communist era insulated them from the cultural advancement in the rest of the world.

  • runfastandwin

    Memo to NBC – I will not watch the 2014 games. And I will encourage others to do the same. As much as I hate to mix sports and politics, it is unavoidable in thee kinds of situations.

  • B00ZED

    How will this effect the KNOWN gays, the ones who are out? Will they be allowed to denounce their gayness and repent or perhaps just leave the country will a little send off gift to tide them over for a while? Or will they be immediately carted off to jail to face a $31,000 fine?

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Perhaps not “just” – but we seem to be the prime target of late.

  • Sweetie

    “Maria Sharapova is a former world number 1 female professional tennis
    player who at the age of 18 earned the distinction of
    becoming world’s highest paid tennis player. Born on 19th April 1987
    in Russia, her family moved to the United States to take advantage of the Nick
    Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida. She was nine years old. In 2005, she became the first Russian to reach number one in the WTA rankings.”

    The first Russian who happened to live the majority of her life in the USA and who happened to train there. The first Russian who has an American accent and who has taken full advantage of all the US has to offer (including the work of gay people at Bollettieri’s and elsewhere), only to represent Russia and call herself Russian despite it all.

  • Sweetie

    And people like Maria Sharapova live in Florida and “represent” Russia.

    Someone needs to protest her. She puts a pretty blonde face on all this while raking in big money.

  • Sweetie

    “In the past it was Jews and gays, now it’s just gay people.”

    fify

  • nicho

    But the old Soviet regime was scarcely any better.

    So the question is which is the lesser of two evils? ;-)

  • Indigo

    Russia. Are they ready to buy Alaska back?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    :-)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Gay-bashing… very niiiiiice…..

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    OMG I was just thinking of that commercial yesterday! I have no idea why. I know it’s mean, but it’s a classic. And considering the era, it was well deserved. And still sadly is.

  • UncleBucky

    Russia. Worse than Belarus in almost every thing except the mafia. And of course, the mafia in Belarus IS the government.

  • Andrew

    Homophobia has long been an effective political strategy. Republicans were able to ride that wave for while.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot
  • Dave of the Jungle

    Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

  • FLL

    Off-topic: You posted a recent story about a woman in India who was the victim of an acid attack. There is already pressure in India to turn the situation around since they passed a law changing the penalty for acid attacks to what it was before (perhaps two years in prison) to 10 years in prison. On that thread, I doubted the wisdom of a boycott against India, seeing as India is just about the only source of progressive change in the region. For example, it has had open, peaceful gay pride parades since 2008.

    On-top: Russia. Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! Here’s your target for a boycott if there ever was once. And this is the Russian government that is perpetrating all this madness, not individual psychopaths (which we also have in the U.S.)

  • Monoceros Forth

    Can’t argue with you there. But the old Soviet regime was scarcely any better. Possibly it was because of indirect, ingrained social conservatism due in part to religious influence. After all, even being excommunicated from the Catholic Church (and hating its guts) didn’t much hinder my mom from giving a me a rather hurtful, socially conservative reaction to my coming out. You absorb the social conventions of your youth, even if you explicitly reject them later.

  • Snaggletooth

    Google and Microsoft’s offices are crime scenes alright, but it has nothing to do with gay rights and everything to do with government collusion regarding citizen oppression.

  • Monoceros Forth

    Yeah, you probably have the right of it. Does the bully really care whom he’s attacking and why? I should think he doesn’t, so long as the victim could be pigeonholed into some sort of social underclass and therefore weak.

  • nicho

    Well, the fall of the USSR allowed the Christians to come out of the closet and flex their muscles. Russian Christians, whether evangelical or orthodox are viciously anti-gay.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    That’s what amazes me too. Perhaps they’re smart, and know that attacking Jews, gays, whomever worked for others, so they’ll try it too, in order to galvanize the masses.

  • Andrew

    This is the country that is hosting the next Olympic Winter Games. I guess sexual minority athletes need to stay closeted and celibate? And LGB tourists need not attend?

  • Monoceros Forth

    God this is depressing. I’m old enough to remember the springtime of the fall of the old Soviet regime and so it’s profoundly to see Russia slip back into oligarchy and oppression.
    Isn’t it odd, by the way, how whatever the supposed basis for an autocracy, whether secular or religious, those autocracies tend to converge on the same repressive policies? The old Soviet Republic hated and punished homosexual citizens as unjustly as any Christian or Muslim theocracy. Why should that be the case, though?

  • dcinsider

    I have never been interested in visiting this shithole and will never visit it. And I agree anyone with travel plans to Russia should visit Syria instead, it may be safer. More importantly, we must begin to pressure American businesses to close their Russian offices in protest.

  • Just_AC

    Wow, simply wow

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