Vladimir Putin’s Russia has declared war on its LGBTI citizens. Homophobic violence, sanctioned by the Russian Orthodox Church, is on the rise.
We know, because even the rest of the world hears about it now. And we can be sure the cases we hear of are only a fraction of those that actually take place. The authorities don’t usually report homophobic motivation. Reuters reported only this month:
Three men . . stabbed and trampled the victim to death. . . put the 39-year-old’s body in his car and set in on fire. Interfax news agency reported the victim was a senior administrator at an airport.
Last month investigators in the southern city of Volgograd said a 23-year-old man was tortured and killed after revealing he was gay during a drinking session.
The level of violence is extreme. In the Volgograd case, some reports said the victim was sodomised with a broken beer bottle.
Every level of state power is also bearing down on the gay community. Pride marches have been banned in several cities, notably Moscow and St Petersburg, protestors have been attacked, sometimes with the connivance of the police, and gay organisations hauled into court.
Coming Out St Petersburg, a Russian organization working for equality for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people was fined to 500,000 roubles ($15,000) under the ‘foreign agent’ law – a fine that puts the organization’s future at risk.
Petition site AllOut, which has collected over 200,00 signatures against the ‘anti-propaganda law’, reports:
Russia’s Parliament passed a bill that would make it a crime for people to say being gay or lesbian is normal, to celebrate pride, or to tell minors it is OK to be gay if they are struggling with their sexual orientation. Foreigners could be deported from Russia if they even communicate electronically in support of gays and lesbians.
American gay rights activist and eight-time Tony Award winning Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein is urging a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics. In a Facebook post he wrote:
“It’s time to start paying attention to what’s going on in Russia in case you haven’t yet. Putin has declared war on the gay community. He’s made it illegal to promote homosexuality in theater, film, tv, print that in any way could be seen by youth. In other words anything gay is now pornography.
“He’s outlawed the adopting of Russian children to any country that has legalized marriage equality.
“And now it is reported that his next law will remove the children of GLBT families from their homes. This will apply to biological children as well as formerly adopted ones.
“This is a horror. Not only for our community but even for straight families. Already divorced parents are threatening one another with blackmail to tell authorities that their ex is now gay just to control parental rights.
“Putin wants this attack against human rights to be his legacy. He believes he can get the backing of the Vatican as well as all other conservative religious leaders to join his cause.
“What can we do? Make his actions and his plans public. Shine the light of public opinion on this evil doer.
“Boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia. Believe me, Putin will use the Olympics as proof that the world backs up his action. There are only two ways to deal with a tyrant: Starve out the rat, or destroy him.
“So, my friends, do your research and then GET LOUD AGAINST PUTIN AND HIS ANTI-GAY POGROM. This is a very small world. Our brothers and sisters in Russia need us NOW!”
The Mayor of Broadway remains one of our most articulate and fierce gay voices.
I never stop being glad Harvey is in the world. He’s dead right. Shut down the Winter Olympics.
Not a bad idea, especially as Russian authorities are indicating that they will arrest and deport openly gay tourists.
Moscow Times, in an article about the author of the anti-gay bills, and describing some of the horrors of state-run orphanages, says:
State Duma deputy Yelena Mizulina, inspired by a new law banning “the propaganda of non-traditional orientation” to minors, now wants to go after families. In a recent television interview, Mizulina stated that she now wants to establish a legal basis for removing the children from same-sex couples. . . . people like Mizulina apparently want there to be more orphans in state care in Russia. She will stop at nothing in her battle against scary gay people and other “non-traditional” folk.
Overseas reaction has so far been muted. The Icelandic capital Reykjavic announced it would cut all political and cultural ties with Moscow. The city council said,
‘In light of the developments concerning the affairs of gay, bisexual and transsexual people that have taken place in Russia over the last few months, the district attorney, Human Rights Office, Office of the Mayor of Reykjavík, and City of Reykjavík chief administrative officer propose amendments or the termination of the collaboration agreement between Reykjavík and Moscow, in cooperation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.’
Contrast that with the Australian response. The Russian crackdown has been particularly severe in St Petersburg, which is a “Sister City” to Melbourne. Yet Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and his city council refuse to cut ties, on Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s advice.
Councillors last week voted to write to the governor of St Petersburg and to “note” Melbourne residents’ condemnation of the controversial laws.
Mr Doyle said the council was not backing down but, on advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, sought to engage rather than “make a lot of noise”.
We have our own Mizulina right here in Australia: the Prime Minister’s sister Loree Rudd welcomed Putin’s new laws, and called for Australia to do likewise.
the stirrer thinks we should tell Mr Bob Carr to protest to Russia against these laws in the strongest possible terms. Here’s how:
Call his Parliament office (02) 6277 7500, or his electorate office (02) 9228 5655
There’s a contact form to let you tell him what you think here.
Meanwhile Tilda Swinton risked arrest by unfurling a rainbow flag in Red Square, under the noses of Russian police. She was not arrested.