Russian Gays, We’ve Got Your Back

Pete Simpson

While the rest of Europe is moving forward with its efforts of becoming inclusive, tolerant communities, Russia is taking many steps back. Vladimir Putin, a man not only famous for being the President of the largest country in Europe, but a man also famous for posing at every opportunity in a NSFW homoerotic  kind of way, with his top off.

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen many a celebrity speak out about Russia’s anti-gay regime. Prison Break star Wentworth Miller even incorporated his thoughts on the matter in his own coming out. The star was quoted in response to an invite for a celeb soiree in the country as saying

“I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.”

Miller, who came out publicly this month, is not the only celebrity speaking out. Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford had his pop at the homophobic nation, and Gabby Logan, who was presenting the BBC’s coverage of the World Athletic Championships, also had her say.

The championships were already controversial amid the talks of the Russian government’s promotion of its new anti-propaganda law which is set to make LGBT a taboo subject in the country. ­­­­­­Logan’s voice on the matter was triggered after Isinbayeva, the Russian pole vaulter, made her comments on her feelings on Gays in Russia.

“We’re a normal nation, we don’t do those kinds of things. Boys go out with girls’ – no, worse – ‘boys go out with women and women go out with boys”

Although this statement was later partially retracted, with poor English skills cited, the initial sentiment remains pertinent. Logan, who spent the day before bigging up the pole vaulting champion felt she then had to make viewers aware of her comments the next day making her feelings on the subject quite known.

You might also remember a couple of weeks ago national treasure Stephen Fry writing a letter to the Russian government condemning their ban on the promotion of homosexuality. So gays, it seems like our backs are covered, so to speak, but what has triggered all this gay hate from the country famous for vodka, the mafia and the highest divorce rate in Europe?

My initial thought was Russia didn’t want to be in Eurovision anymore. I mean, offend the gays and that’s 75 percent of your audience for voting gone, but no, it’s a little bit deeper rooted than that. The ban on the promotion of gay propaganda is a restriction of information that promotes non-traditional sexual relationships to children.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, a year after it was taken off the mental health register in the UK. Russian officials have been trying to emphasize that the law does not penalize gay orientation or activity. So why are Gabby, Greg, Stephen and Wentworth so worked up about it?

The law reflects widespread animosity towards gay communities in Russia today, but the law itself is vague. It might be that you are walking through Moscow wearing a rainbow flag on your t-shirt or posting about your latest gay relationships on a social networking site that could land you with arrest. Over all the law is about oppression, and yes, anyone who wants to speak out against Russia and Putins absurd law, then do so, and perhaps the more we do, the more the craziness and pointlessness of this law will become clear to a nation that is now certainly off my bucket list.

About Pete Simpson

Pete is a 20 year old (and some) guy who describes himself as a social entrepreneur. He is an LGBT charity trustee and was voted best dressed male 2004 at sixth form college. Often found with a beer, in Birmingham, London or Milton Keynes. Twitter @cardboardcakes