What happens if you are LGBT and you live or you decide to visit Russia? In both cases you may end up in jail! If you are a visitor you may be in jail for two weeks and then you will be deported!
Putin and Kremlin believe that the youngsters must be protected from “bad” homosexuality so they banned any “homosexual” behavior inside the country. Last year, Moscow’s Top Court banned Gay Pride for a hundred years. According to the Russian LGBT Network, homophobic violence increased after the Russian anti-gay law passed, because the attackers are not afraid of legal reprisals. These attacks are mostly motivated by right-wing activists. All of this is happening while Russia prepares the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi where many LGBT people are expected to arrive, among them are athletes, officials, volunteers and visitors.
With the adoption of the new laws, many people proposed to boycott Russian products, like vodka. In addition, there are pages on Facebook calling on people to boycot the Olympic Games. Among the voices against anti-gay legislation is also the singer Cher. As she revealed in her interview in the Canadian magazine Maclean’s, she turned down the proposal for being an ambassador for the Games and she said no to opening the show.
On the other hand Blake Skjellerup, ice-skater from New Zealand, said that he will wear a rainbow pin to show his support for LGBT people in Russia. Also Elton John stated in The Guardian that he feels like he needs to perform in Russia in order to help gay people.
A big share of the international media turned against the Russian authorities for these laws, paying special attention to the reaction of public figures as well as NGOs and citizens across the world.
Russia’s law depicts homosexuality as something bad and immoral that young people should be protected from. These laws violate the right to non-discrimination, and by silencing all LGBT issues it protects people who commit violence against homosexual people. Moreover, it creates a difficult situation for people who want to visit Russia. This affects AEGEE as well since we promote human rights and the mobility of young people.
There are governments that reacted to those laws. For example, when Putin visited the Netherlands, Amsterdam was decorated in rainbow flags. But it needs to be something more efficient from official organizations like International Olympics Committee, European Union and United Nations because after the passing of the laws, the crimes against homosexuals increased and they remained unpunished by the local courts.
The anti-LGBT laws also has the support of the more conservative sector of society. The Russian Orthodox Church and Christianity have a lot of influence in Russia and, as we could read in The Huffington Post, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill said the following about equal marriage: “This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction”. However, homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders in 1990 (according to the World Health Organization).
Those laws remind us of the communist era in Russia when homosexuals used to end up in Gulag labour camps. They remind us of the Second World War, when homosexuals were arrested and went to concentration camps where they had to wear pink triangles, and where many of them got raped and died. They remind us of the Middle East where many people keep on murdering or forcing sex reassignment surgery to homosexuals, using the Shari’a as an excuse.
Now a European country acts like these regimes that remind us of the darkest pages in history and official international organizations keep silent, not only for Russia, but for every homophobe law in every country of the world.
Written by Dimitra P. Amorgianou, AEGEE-Kastoria