Popularly labelled “Russia’s anti-gay law” in the West, the bill has attracted fiery international criticism for its implications for the human rights of Russia’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities.
Published: September 10, 2013
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, former Soviet dissident and co-founder of the human-rights watchdog the Moscow Helsinki Group, has called the legislation "a step toward the Middle Ages."
But Kirill Kobrin, journalist and historian at Radio Free Europe’s Russia Service, has a different take: “it was unthinkable to even discuss these issues twenty years ago in Russia,” he says. Kobrin thinks there has been a major shift in public consciousness that now, under the Kremlin’s lead, LGBT rights are the focus of public attention and debate in Russia — albeit [following the adoption of new law] censored debate.
Elena Mizulina, the controversial deputy who co-authored the legislation and heads Russia’s State Duma Committee on Family, Women, and Children, has said that the law aims to protect children from information that rejects "traditional family values”.
Specifically, the bill prohibits “the spreading of information” which aims to: (1) create non-traditional sexual attitudes among children, (2) make non-traditional sexual relations seem attractive, (3) give “a distorted perception about the social equality between traditional and non-traditional sexual relations" or (4) enforce information about non-tradition sexual relations that evokes interest in such relations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his support for the new law, saying its purpose is only to “protect children.” Putin has also said that homosexuals are “not being discriminated against in any way.” But how, critics wonder, is this legislation anything but discriminatory?
To argue that homosexuality is somehow both shameful and not to be discussed and that homosexuals won’t be discriminated against is something the West can’t get its head around.
And what exactly does the bill mean by a “non-traditional relationship”? Because it doesn’t define it, there’s speculation that it could be interpreted to mean anything from homosexuality, to polyamory to BDSM.
Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner, Vladimir Lukin, said on June 11 that the "unwise application" of the legislation could lead to "human casualties and human tragedies.”
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