Should the LGBT Community Worry About Russia?

In recent weeks, the Russian government has come under fire for a recent amendment to a law on child protection which prohibits the promotion of homosexuality to under 18’s in Russia. The punishment for breaching this law varies with the BBC saying an individual can risk a £78 fine while an organisation could be fined up to nearly £20,000 or one million roubles. This has drawn widespread criticism from more famous figures within and outside of the gay community with Stephen Fry calling for Russia to be denied the right to host the Winter Olympics next year. But should they be focusing on Russia?

To say Russia has had a history where homosexuality has had it tough is an understatement. During the days of the Soviet Union, homosexuality was prohibited by law and has only been legal since 1993. While a large section of the Western world is debating whether gays should be allowed to marry, in Russia, civil partnerships are illegal and the situation looks unlikely to change. It is also perfectly legal to discriminate against homosexuals, so for example they could be denied a job or entry to a club just for being gay.

One question that leaps out is why? For a start, Russia is a very conservative country from a social perspective with a strong religious presence, with the Russian Orthodox Church and Islam being the two largest faith groups with many smaller branches of Christianity existing in Russia. A large portion of the Russian population does not recognise that homosexuality is natural but believes that it is actually an illness. With feelings like this towards the LGBT community, there is not going to be a swift and sudden change in how Russians view homosexuality. There is also a chance, that because other European countries are becoming more supportive of ideas like gay marriage and adoption, this could mean that Russians may oppose equal rights for gays just to express their identity.

To many people, this way of thinking is seen as backwards but Russia is far from the worst country when it comes to gay rights. For one, homosexuality in Russia is legal provided that the partners are old enough to consent. The main reason why Russia has come under scrutiny for this is that it is hosting the Winter Olympics next year and of course the FIFA World cup in 2018. Yet in 2022, Qatar will be hosting the FIFA World Cup where homosexuality is currently illegal. While the 2022 hosts have come under criticism for a number of reasons, the issue of homosexuality in Qatar is one which makes people think about the moral implications. It could be that within the next nine years, as Qatar continues to grow, that it may change its stance. If the LGBT community and their supporters were serious, they would focus on countries like Qatar rather than Russia where although promotion of homosexuality is illegal, the act is legal under Russian law and will probably not worsen in the future.

Of course, the gay community in Russia does face persecution and harassment constantly, yet this does not come from the state but from far right political and vigilante groups. In countries like Saudi Arabia and Uganda, the state actively persecutes gay. Punishments include seven years imprisonment, whipping, life imprisonment and even the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. While it is unlikely that these countries will host events on the same scale as the World Cup or Winter Olympics, it would show that the global LGBT community was serious about defending all of their members if they were more willing to tackle these countries.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: International politics, Opinion


Conservative who supports Northampton Town Football Club and is rather geeky with a love of video games, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones among others. I like to write about politics, history, football and several other things. Views here are my own and I will not apologise for them. Feel free to follow me on twitter at Simonturner2

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