Opinion: Russia’s Gay Rights

Tilda Swinton standing up for rights in the LGBT community in Russia
Tilda Swinton standing up for rights in the LGBT community, Russia

Advocates for the LGBT community have turned the spotlight on Russia. Under President Vladimir Putin, a “propaganda law” was which incurs fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18. This makes it so young, uninformed Russian citizens don’t have information that many feel is crucial for those who are going through puberty and developing a sexual identity.

As if coercing an entire generation to a biased world view wasn’t enough, the wording of this new amendment: “the propagandizing of non-traditional sexual relations with minors” is rather ambiguous and gives Russian law enforcement a range of interpretation.  Any sort of LGBT event can arguably be illegal if local authorities deem you are propagandizing homosexuality to any onlooker under the age of 18.

Although Russia started moving toward inclusivity in 1993 by decriminalizing homosexual relations, some fundamental rights for the LGBT community are still lacking. Neither civil partnership nor marriage is an option for LGBT partners, and even more concerning- there are no laws prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. This imbalance is personified well through a quote from Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov: “Homosexuality, as you know, used to be a criminal act in the Soviet Union. The article in the criminal code has long been repealed and homosexuals can do their thing absolutely freely and without punishment…” Lavrov naturally goes on to say “(gay people cannot be allowed to) aggressively promote their values, which are different from those of the majority, and to impose them on children.” So great, now you aren’t a criminal for loving someone of the same sex- you just have to hide yourself from a chunk of the population!

Hiding behind false political objectivity is not fooling anybody, this amendment is discriminatory. The Putin administration is showing its true colors by passing an amendment that silences the LGBT community in Russia. It would be a breath of fresh air for the Putin administration to come out and say that they are not allowing homosexuals and their allies to express their own values and ideals, rather than subdue an entire population to a false sense of freedom.

Let us know what you think!


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