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Country Conditions In Russia: Persecution Of LGBTQ Members

Author: Alena Shautsova

Despite that the Russian constitution encourages freedom to life, belief, and association, the Russian environment has proven to be an unhealthy place for LGBTQ persons and associates. The attitudinal behavior of many Russians suggests that any union of persons except that of a man and woman is unnatural.

Many organizations of the world have taken steps to mediate the situation and mitigate its unhealthiness with no significant result.

Individuals such as Wentworth Miller have boycotted events in Russia to prove their dislike for the homophobic trend. The Russian authorities are not alone in this act, it extends even to the majority of the populace.

The question remains, will Russia ever be accepting of LGBTQ members? Can the Russian environment be a safe place for people with diverse sexual orientations? What else is there to be done to improve the living conditions of LGBTQ members in Russia? While this article doesn't suggest answers to these questions, but he throws more light on the treatment of LGBTQ members in Russia.

Russia and LGBTQ Members

In 1993 the government of Russia allowed for same-sex sexual activities by consenting adults in private. Although this did and does not hold in Chechnya. Despite the seeming legality of most sexual activities, the majority of Russians still frown at the act. Public show of affection by same-sex couples would usually attract a fine as the barest minimum punishment. There is no protection for LGBT members from discriminatory acts including housing discrimination and adoption discrimination. Nonetheless, they might be allowed to join the military, but they live by the de-facto code of "don't ask, don't tell."

Since 1999 homosexuality has been viewed in Russia as a mental illness and curative measures could include being detained at a psychiatric center. While members of the LGBTQ community can be allowed to change their gender but they must undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Statistics from institutions like Levada Centre, Pew Research Centre, and Associated Press depict a high level of dislike for LGBTQ members.

According to a poll from Levada Centre in 2020, 18% of Russians believe that gays and lesbians should be eliminated from society.

In 2017, Pew Research revealed that 80% of Orthodox Christians support the Church's stand against same-sex marriages.

Associated Press in 2014 revealed that 51% of Russians would not want a homosexual neighbor and 16% believe homosexuals should be isolated from society.

By a 2013 Levada Center poll, 5% of Russians believe homosexuals should be physically destroyed.

Discrimination Against LGBTQ Members

In June 2013, the Russian Federation introduced a federal law called "to Protect Children From Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values." This law is known worldwide as the "gay propaganda law.” This law is formed to prohibit the promotion of homosexual content amongst minors or children as it was seen as defying traditional family values. The law prohibits but is not limited to information provided via the press television radio and the internet.

The law gives strength to the discriminatory practices against LGBTQ members as it gives the view that they are threats to traditional family values.

As of today, there are no protections from discrimination against LGBTQ people based on housing, adoption, and employment.

More than many places in Russia, Chechnya is known for harassing, torturing and entrapping, and abusing gay people. In some cases, there have been reports of killings perpetrated against gay people. The authorities of Chechnya- through an anti-gay campaign- have been known to round up real or perceived gay people and arrest them. In some cases, their passports are confiscated to discourage fleeing out of the country.

Stories of LGBTQ Persecution

On 1 April 2017, Novaya Gazeta a Russian newspaper published the rounding up of at least a hundred gay men by police officials in Chechnya. These men were arrested and subjected to torture in prison. Reports had it that, some were killed and some sent back home with instructions for their families to kill them.

Between December 2018 and February 2019 Human Rights Watch interviewed four men detained at the Grozny Internal Affairs Department compound. The Police officials there kicked them with booted feet, beat them with sticks and polypropylene pipes, and tortured three of the four with electric shocks. One was raped with a stick.

This report tallied with a report filed by the Russian LGBT-Network which stated that in the same period, police in Grozny rounded up and detained 14 men.

One of the men interrogated said at some point, the police handed him over to his family and exposed his sexual orientation, while subtly encouraging his family to kill him.

There are more reports of men, not because there are no lesbians, there are. Their families mostly the adult male members are usually responsible for meting out harsher conditions, resulting in the deaths of the victims at times.

09 December 2021
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