Russia’s ‘anti-gay’ law Provides Legal Approval of Homophobia

by TarikA on January 26, 2014 - 10:57am

Original article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/11/russia-law-banning-gay-prop...

To the dismay of many in the international community, Russia’s government unanimously approved a federal law banning gay “propaganda” in the country, according to an article titled “Russia passes law banning ‘gay’ propaganda” published on the Guardian’s website by Miriam Elder, on June 11th, 2013. In the hopes of purportedly securing “conservative” values throughout the country, the Russian Duma (the lower house of the Russian legislature) passed the law with a vote of 436-0, with only one deputy deciding to abstain from the vote. Though Russia’s history with LGBT activism and gay rights has always been troubling – given that the issue is a cultural taboo for many in the country – the new law approved by the Duma leads to even more concern about the current social climate there, which certain human rights groups have been quoted as saying is the worst it’s been within the post-Soviet era.

This story has dominated headlines for the last few months and has put an enormous amount of international pressure on Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. The latter has repeatedly clarified, for the last few months, that the law assures the “protection” of minors from being exposed to and instructed about perverse and “non-traditionalist relations” (without explicitly referring to homosexuality). Though the remarks by Putin and lawmakers alike may seem wholesome to those with the same conservative backdrop, it is shameful to observe any state or legislative body persecute a minority group in such a fashion. The argument for the up-keep of traditionalist values in the country is dubious at best, and Mr. Putin’s efforts to allow the undermining of millions is not an example of a leader set out to do what is best for his own people, but rather of a leader swept up in his own political game. Though I may never have been to Russia, nor learnt to speak the language or soak in the culture, I still see it as necessary to exclaim my discontent with the systematic oppression of homosexuality and LGBT activism by Vladimir Putin and his government. Though the subject in it of itself may not be only taboo in Russia, it is imperative to take action against a “law” that attests to creating a schism within a people, over the simple and very personal issue of sexual orientation.

No matter how big or how far a problem may be, inaction will never help diminish its presence. Many human rights groups are paying attention to the situation in Russia and carefully documenting the offenses committed by the Russian government. Probing a government is never an easy task though (particularly now that NGO’s are being shadowed more intensely due to new laws in Russia), which is why you can help by donating money to groups, like Human Rights Watch, who take it upon themselves to independently verify cases of human rights abuse. You can also make your voice heard on the issue by signing petitions, like the one proposed by Amnesty International on their own website or on other crowd-sourced websites. By spreading the message and giving this issue ever more traction in the media, it is possible to spread our discontent and solidify an opposition against the Russian government’s actions.

Of course, Russia is a country on the other side of the world and the business of foreign affairs is never an easy one. That said, it should not be allowed for any government to uphold a law that undermines the freedoms of its own people.