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Posts for September, 2013

McCain criticizes Putin

Timothy Kincaid

September 19th, 2013

Today Sen John McCain took advantage of the offer to write a letter in Pravda to the Russian people in response to Putin’s LA Times opinion piece. He was harshly critical of the Russian leadership accusing Putin and his administration of corruption and oppression. He had examples: (Pravda)

They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn. They throw the members of a punk rock band in jail for the crime of being provocative and vulgar and for having the audacity to protest Putin’s rule.

Famous Russian cured of the homosexuality

Timothy Kincaid

September 18th, 2013

The glorious republic of Russia has developed a process for the removal of the homosexuality. So powerful is this process that the known homosexual doesn’t need to be present. In fact, he doesn’t even need to be alive.

While this exciting breakthrough – illustrating Russia’s superior scientific position – has not have yet been tested on insignificant homosexual in the great nation, it has been illustrated as most effective in removing the homosexuality one of the Mother Country’s best known citizens. (Guardian)

Russia’s culture minister has denied that composer Peter Tchaikovsky was gay, discarding what has long been regarded as historical fact. Vladimir Medinsky claimed that there was no evidence to suggest the 19th-century composer was anything other than a lonely man who failed to find a suitable woman to marry.

Experts agree that Tchaikovsky is much pleased with his new status as a lonely man and gives praise to the most excellent President Putin and Minister Medinsky. Bolstered by this astonishing news, the ghost of Rudolf Nureyev has put in a petition with the culture minister to see if he too could qualify for reorientation.

NBC News Brings Scott Lively to Mainstream America

Jim Burroway

September 18th, 2013

We’ve been following Scott Lively for six years now, through his activities in Novosibirsk, Riga, and Kampala. When Russia passed a so-called “anti-propaganda” law which effectively prohibits all advocacy and positive portrayals of gay people, Lively rushed to take credit for it. But with the exception for a brief period in 2009 after Uganda’s parliament proposed a law which would include the death penalty for gay people, Lively hasn’t made much of an impression in the mainstream media. Today, NBC News published a significant profile which gets the rest of America caught up to date with the impact that Lively has had around the world:

Lively has reason to be a bit cocky. America may have “fallen to the gays,” he says, but much of the world still fears them and Lively is working to keep it that way.

In Moldova in 2011, according to Human Rights Watch, he helped several cities declare themselves “gay-free zones” and organized an “emergency” campaign to block a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Belarus he met with politicians and pastors, fostering talk of new curbs on gay rights. Every place he goes, Lively says, his goal is to block the open expression of homosexuality, keep discrimination legal and make pro-gay advocacy a crime.

To whip up support for such policies, Lively simply shares his beliefs about gay people: They’re dangerous predators, even killers. And they caught this gay “disorder” through “an evil game of tag,” a chain of abuse in which gays recruit kids into sodomy just as they were once recruited. In this way homosexuality spreads like “a social cancer,” he claims, until nothing remains of the Christian world.

NBC has re-posed portions of video from Lively’s talks in Novosibirsk and Riga, videos which are no longer available at their original locations. Tony Dokoupil’s report provides more information about the extent of Lively’s 2007 tour, which turns out to be more extensive than I had originally thought. Dokoupil also draws a line from Lively’s virulent rhetoric to some of the violence which often follows:

In Oregon in 1992, a same-sex couple died when their house was firebombed during OCA’s campaign to declare homosexuality “abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse.” In Sacramento in 2007, a gay man was called a “faggot” and punched to death by a stranger in a park. In Uganda in 2011, the country’s first openly gay man had his skull caved in. And right now in Russia and in the former Soviet states, there’s been a surge in homophobic vigilantism, including a torrent of shaming videos, some depicting gay teens being tortured by skinheads. Lively has not been linked to any of these crimes but we asked: Couldn’t his talk of predatory gays, “good and evil,” and “war” have played a role?

“Wow, that’s a leap,” said Lively, who sees his work as advocacy in the public interest, no different from campaigning against drunk drivers.

Lively is probably best known within the gay community for his 2009 conference in Uganda. Lively would later brag that the conference was his “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda,” and he immodestly dubbed himself the father of the anti-homosexuality movement in Uganda. Ugandan activists are currently suing Lively in U.S. Federal District Court, alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights and safety under International Law, and that conspiracy resulted in harm to the LGBT community. Lively is being sued under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”  Dokoupil adds this concerning the lawsuit:

Pamela Spees, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the group pursuing Lively for alleged “crimes against humanity” in Uganda, said she is prepared to file a second lawsuit related to his work in Russia and the surrounding countries, assuming there’s evidence that Lively was “an architect of the persecutory program” there.

And that’s why the case against Lively is so important, gay-rights activists say. As the Olympics draw nearer and the boycotts and homophobic backlash continue, Putin will be the guy paraded down the world’s front pages and social media feeds. But Lively may be the secret agent to watch.

If he loses his lawsuit he could be prohibited from spreading his message abroad, a terrible precedent for other anti-gay crusaders. However if he wins, he emerges stronger than ever, the self-described “hero” of an expanding fight to restore “godliness to society,” as he puts it – or else “pull as many people as possible into the lifeboat before the ship goes down.”

We’ve been following Scott Lively for several years, ever since he first popped up on our radar in 2007 when he was in Riga, Latvia in a stop on a far-flung tour of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union sponsored by a new international anti-gay organization, Watchmen On the Walls. (That organization now appears to be inactive.) Soon, video appeared of a talk Lively gave earlier in March in Riga. I was then alerted to video of a talk that Lively gave in Novosibirsk in August, where he warned:

There is a war that is going on in the world. There is a war that is waging across the entire face of the globe. It’s been waging in the United States for decades, and it’s been waging in Europe for decades. It’s a war between Christians and homosexuals. …And this is the design of the Devil to destroy civilization, because civilization is based on the natural family.

Then in November, Lively was back in Riga for a multi-day Watchmen conference. On the first day, Lively complained that the United States was under the iron grip of the homosexual agenda, which he called the product of Satan, “the father of lies“:

You have to understand how this battle works. We follow the God of truth. The Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of Truth, lives inside of us. But our adversaries follow the father of lies. Scripture calls him the “father of lies.” They can’t tell the truth, and they won’t tell the truth because they don’t want people to listen to what we have to say. But we can’t say anything that would give them proof that what they teach is right… So we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We won’t stop telling the truth, and they won’t stop telling the lies. But this is a war.

In a later talk at the same conference, Lively disclosed what he called secrets that “homosexuality community doesn’t want you to know”: that homosexuality is a disorder, that homosexuality is like an addiction but also that homosexuality is voluntary, that homosexuals really don’t want to be homosexual, and that the only reason we remain homosexual is because the leaders of the homosexual movement have made us afraid of Christians. He also read aloud an open letter to the Russian people, in which he advocated:

…[C]riminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality. My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don’t want it. However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage “gay pride” parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.

Russia has effectively done that, after President Vladimir Putin signed the so-called “anti-propaganda” into law last June.

The farce that is international gay “support”

Timothy Kincaid

September 15th, 2013

Ya know, you reach a point where you realize that it’s all just words, that the defense of gay rights has become less about gay people and more about the chance to pat yourself on the back. And nothing has illustrated this more to me that the recent “controversy” over Russia’s horribly oppressive anti-gay laws.

Oh, the international community is Raising Concerns. And leaders are Talking Sternly. And the International Olympic Committee is having meetings and getting Assurances. And everyone is oh so very very very concerned that Russia not … well, let’s not be too specific about what they’re concerned about.

It doesn’t seem to be free speech rights. The IOC is very clear that they don’t want to change Russia’s law. And every newspaper – other than gay media – uses the word “propaganda” or “youth” every paragraph so as to make sure that everyone knows that this is perhaps a tiny bit concerning but not really all that unreasonable. Because propaganda and youth, you know.

And they’ve heard our concerns and, goodness gracious, we can’t have conflict. Conflict is bad. And the Olympics is a time of coming together and getting along and setting aside differences.

So maybe it’s just best that we shut up.

The corporate sponsors of the Olympics have become concerned that their name and product will be associated with civil rights violations. And they’ve expressed concern to the IOC, who passed that on to Russia. And the response: (msnbc)

A senior IOC official said Monday that sponsors, especially U.S. sponsors, are concerned about the law and are “afraid” of the potential fallout at next year’s Olympic Games. “I think this could ruin a lot for all of us. We have to be prepared,” marketing commission chairman Gerhard Heiberg said. “We can see many ways this could happen. I heard a lot from the sponsors, especially the American sponsors, what they are afraid of could happen.”

IOC President Jacques Rogge allayed any fears of possible demonstrations in Sochi and said the committee will remind athletes to refrain from protests or political gestures during the Games. “The constitution of the Russian federations allows for homosexuality,” Rogge said. “And we have received strong reassurances that this law will not affect participants in the Sochi Games.”

And so what is the official position of the IOC? That which Russian assigned them.

The head of Sochi’s organizing committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said that the law which bans “homosexual propaganda” would not affect the games as it would not apply to Olympic athletes, fans and media. He said the law has been misinterpreted by protesters and activists, and urged the IOC to communicate the message to “those who are still trying to speculate on this very transparent and very clear topic,” that Russia does not ban homosexuality.

“It’s very important to have your support to stop this campaign and this speculation regarding this issue,” Chernyshenko said.

We’ve been told that there are no reasons for concern. No one will be arrested… unless they break the law. Unless they, as Olympians, make any statements of any type, verbal or otherwise, that express anything other than contempt for gay people or gay rights.

And that is far far more inclusive than the mainstream press is emphasizing.

Take, for example, the arrest of Dmitry Isakov, who held a sign “Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is a crime!” Not exactly the most radical statement, but in Russia that’s propaganda.

But the real interesting part of Isakov’s arrest was not the message. (Buzzfeed)

Police filed the charges on the basis of a complaint from a teenager in the northern Arkhangelskaya province who had seen Isakov’s protest online.

Oh yeah, the internet is fair game. But we have nothing to fear. No sirree, we can rest assured that as long as an athlete has never, ever, made a statement in opposition to, say, beating gay people that can be found in the media or online, then they have nothing to fear.

And Russia need not even be the bad guy. The IOC will happily punish any athlete that makes a “political” statement, because of Rule 50: “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted”. Ah, there’s that lovely word again, “propaganda”. And the IOC has made it very clear that Russian President Putin gets to define that term.

Oh, and our “allies”, the representatives from enlightened nations to the IOC, they have our back, right? Nope. (USAtoday)

Dick Pound of Canada weighed in on the issue a bit more pointedly. He called the law “disgusting” but said athletes need to respect their status as guests in Sochi. Pound said national Olympic committees should warn their athletes about the consequences. “You say to your kids, ‘If you screw around with this we’ll send you home.”

And if an athlete challenges such a mandate? “If there have been lots of warnings, there’s no excuse for it,” Pound said. “Then it becomes a provocation.”

Yes, yes, it’s horrible that the official position of a nation is that your existence is illegal – and let’s be honest, any law that makes declaring one’s existence to be illegal is nondifferentiable from one that makes one’s existence illegal – but just be good little faggots and shut up. Don’t rock the boat. We have big important international cooperation here and a mutual congratulatory event and don’t you dare raise any issues which might disprove our display of consanguinity.

Hey, if you just be invisible, we’ll let you play.

Oh, and look at how wonderful we are for raising your little issue. See what an advocate of civil rights we are and such firm negotiators too; We convinced Putin to give “assurances”. You should pat us on the back!

And the US rep is no better:

American Anita DeFrantz, who was elected to the influential executive board on Tuesday, said punishment for small statements such as nail polish sounds a bit much. It also raises complicated questions. What if someone’s rainbow pin is just a good luck charm?

Surely we can allow a good luck charm, so long as it isn’t in support of the humanity of an oppressed minority. Cuz if you support humanity, then it’s only reasonable to send you home.

And meanwhile at the United Nations, a symbolic statement has allowed politicians another chance to look wonderful while doing nothing whatsoever.

There is a tradition at Olympics time for the host nation to write Olympic Truce, a resolution calling for friendly competition and the cause of peace. And this year Russia included a clause promising to include “people of different age, sex, physical capacity, religion, race and social status”.

It was pointed out that there was one group missing from that list, people of different sexual orientation.

Well there was no way – no way at all – that Russia was going to include people of different sexual orientation. So our “allies” brokered a solution; the language was changed to “promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.” And we can all pretend that this includes gay people, even though we know with absolute certainty that it does not. (NYTimes)

“I think it’s a very good outcome, and I think the Russians want to have a consensus to adopt this,” said Iakovos Iakovidis, a Greek representative to the United Nations, who was one of several officials in support of revising the statement. “I think people will be happy with this.”

No, Iakovidis, I’m not happy with this.

It’s bovine manure. It’s a bogus make-happy effort to do nothing while pretending to say something. It’s zero, nothing at all.

Meanwhile Bach and Rogge and Heiberg and Pound and DeFrantz and Iakovidis haven’t gotten around to noticing the latest Russian legislative proposal, taking away the children of gay parents. And when that passes, and it will, we can predict the result. “We are very concerned but Putin has given “assurances” that no athlete’s children will be seized (if they leave them at home). So shhhh, don’t rock the boat. We have a mega-billion dollar industry, ummm sporting event, to put on here and we really don’t give a flying fig about what Putin does to your type of people.”

But we Raised The Issue. And gosh, maybe we should get a medal for being On Your Side. And for Looking Out For Civil Rights.

Sochi Olympic Chief to IOC: Make the Criticisms Stop. IOC to Athletes: Stop Criticizing When in Sochi

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2013

This tells you everything you need to know about Russia’s inability to cope with free debate:

The head of the Sochi Olympics asked the IOC on Sunday to help “stop this campaign and this speculation” related to the anti-gay law that has been overshadowing preparations for next year’s Winter Games in Russia.

The IOC would like all worldwide athletes to shut up and behave like good Russian patriots:

(IOC marketing commission chairman Gerhard) Heiberg raised the issue of concerns among sponsors.

“Lately there has been a lot of discussion, especially in Western Europe and in the United States, and I’m being pushed by several of the sponsors asking what will happen with this new law in Russian in connection with the gay community,” he said. “We are not to try to change anything over the laws in Russia. We will of course accept this as internal Russian decision. But what will the consequences be?”

Heiberg cited Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which says “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

“We have to be prepared,” he said. “We can see many ways this could happen. I heard a lot from the sponsors, especially the American sponsors, what they are afraid of could happen.”

Rogge said athletes would soon be reminded about their responsibility to abide by the IOC regulations related to protests in the charter.

According to the AP, IOC President Jacques Rogge said he “satisfied” with Russia’s explanations so far. What’s particularly chilling, if Heiberg’s words are to be taken at face value, is that Olympic sponsors’ fears about “fallout” from potential demonstrations appear to be resulting in pressure on the IOC and Russian officials to make sure they don’t occur.

Russian Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Take Children Away from Gay Parents

Jim Burroway

September 5th, 2013

Russian State Duma Deputy Akexey Zhuravlev has published a draft bill on Parliament’s web site which would make the “fact of nontraditional sexual orientation” a cause for denying custody for gay parents over their children. According to the Kremlin-backed Russia Today:

State Duma deputy from United Russia parliamentary caucus claims that the recently introduced ban on promotion of non-traditional sex relations to minors should be extended to families. Therefore, homosexual parents have no right to raise their children.

MP Aleksey Zhuravlev submitted the suggested amendments to the Family Code to the State Duma on Thursday. The explanatory note to the bill reads that non-traditional sexual orientation of one or both parents would become sufficient reason to deprive both of them of their parental rights.

Following the letter of the law that forbids propaganda of non-traditional sex to minors we must restrict such propaganda not only in mass media but also the family,” Zhuravlev wrote. His reasoning is that “if one of the child’s parents indulges in sexual contact with persons of the same sex, the damage to the child’s psyche is immense as a mother or father serves as an example for their offspring.”

The amendments should apply to those whose families have already collapsed because of the non-traditional contacts of one of the spouses and also to the families where non-traditional sex is openly practiced by one of the parents, the note reads. It adds that for cases when a wife simply suspects her husband of non-traditional sex, the court and the Investigative Committee (Russia’s top law enforcement agency created for dealing with especially important and resonant cases), “have specialists trained in everything.” [Emphasis in the original.]

Russia Today also notes that in accompanying supporting documents, Zhuravlev refers the the fraudulent and debunked paper published in 2012 by University of Austin professor Mark Regnerus, whose paper was paid for with a $700,000 from the Witherspoon Institute.

 Russia Today reports that several top Deputies are “very skeptical about the initiative.” RIA Novosti adds:

The idea of stripping LGBT parents of their rights was first aired in June by ultraconservative Duma lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, an ardent backer of the ban on “gay propaganda.”

Mizulina’s proposal prompted one of Russia’s most prominent gay rights champions, liberal journalist Masha Gessen, to leave Russia for the United States. Gessen said she feared the two children she was raising with her girlfriend could be taken away from her.

“As a gay parent I must flee Russia or lose my children,” Gessen, who holds dual Russian-American citizenship, said in an op-ed in The Guardian newspaper last month.

Zhuravlev, a member of Putin’s United Russia party as well as the All-Russia People’s Front, was selected to lead Russia’s newly-reconstituted nationalist Rodina (short for Motherland-National Patriotic Union) party last year.

 

Six Conservative American Organizations Sign On To Support Russia’s Anti-Gay Law

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2013

Six American organizations have joined an international coalition in a statement supporting Russia’s so-called “anti-propaganda” law which prohibits persons and organizations from expressing their free speech rights for LGBT people. Of course, free speech rights against LGBT people are fully protected while anti-LGBT violence is officially ignored.

Six American conservative groups have signed on: the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, GrassTopsUSA, His Servants, Linda Harvey’s Mission America, Population Research Institute, and the World Congress of Families, which will hold its next Congress in Moscow in 2014. The statement repeats Russia’s propaganda that the legislation is only meant to “protect (the) innocence and moral formation of children“: (PDF: 68KB/4 pages):

The signing entities below are highly concerned about the heavy attacks that the Russian Federation is facing due to its recent Federal Law of June 29, 2013 No. 135-FZ “On Amendments to Article 5 of the Federal Law On Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development …” that protects innocence and moral formation of children by prohibiting propaganda of “non-traditional sexual relationships” among them.

We affirm that the natural family created through the marriage of a man and a woman is the foundation of any human society and is entitled to protection by society and the State as stated in the international Human Rights norms, including Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 16 (3)). Any harmful initiative for the natural family is destructive for the society as a whole. We also affirm that the children need special protection due to their innocence and immaturity.

We acknowledge that the Russian law protects the innocence of children and the basic rights of their parents recognized in the international legislation and treaties. With its new law Russia is protecting genuine and universally recognized human rights against artificial and fabricated “values” aggressively imposed in many modern societies. We also note that the concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are not outlined in the existing binding international treaties and agreements.

We thus call for respect of the sovereignty of the Russian people and we invite all organizations and people who feel responsible for the protection of the innocence of children and their rights, the natural family and parental rights to stand up for Russia, as well as for Ukraine and Moldova suffering the same pressure due to similar laws.

Scott Lively Sings His Praises To Putin

Jim Burroway

September 3rd, 2013

In 2006 and 2007, Scott Lively undertook a fifty day Watchmen On the Walls tour of the former Soviet Union when, during a stop in Novosibirsk, Lively regaled his cheering audience with the tale of the murder of Satendar Singh, a 26-year-old gay Fijian of Indian origin, who was killed near Sacramento, California by at least two Russian immigrants. During that same tour, Lively released his “Letter to the Russian People,” calling on Russia to launch a campaign to “protect Russia from the ‘gay’ movement.” His first recommendation was to “begin an immediate campaign in every city to promote marriage and family values.” Then:

Second, begin training doctors, psychologists and therapists in the techniques of helping homosexuals to recover, and offer this therapy as a public service. Promote recovery for homosexuals in public advertising and reach out to young people who may suffer from same-sex attraction. Catch it early and spare these youths a lifetime of pain and suffering. Importantly, if Russian authorities publicly promote recovery for homosexuals, the “gays” will not be able to deceive the public with their “born the way” propaganda.

Third, criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality. My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don’t want it. However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage “gay pride” parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.

Last June, Vladimir Putin signed a law which effectively implements Lively’s third recommendation, making it a criminal offense for anyone, gay or straight, to perform what would be in America a rather unremarkable exercise of their First Amendment rights, by advocating for or on behalf of LGBT people. Lively harkens the ghosts of the Soviet Union’s official repression of samizdat literature and makes the display of the equivalent of Frank Kameny’s 1960s-era “Gay is Good” buttons grounds for arrest and criminal prosecution.

Other anti-gay extremists, who three months ago wouldn’t have given two positive thoughts about Putin’s opposition-jailing, media-controlling, vote-rigging, violence-ridden and corruption-plagued oligarchy, are now falling over themselves in praising Putin’s “family values.” State-controlled Voice of Russia turned to the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer as an “expert” on homosexuality, who praised Russia’s anti-gay law as “homorealistic.” In Pat Buchanan’s rambling rant on August 13, he commended Putin for “trying to re-establish the Orthodox Church as the moral compass of the nation.” Rush Limbaugh and the Daily Caller have also expressed their admiration for Putin’s new Russia. That these former cold-warriers are lining up to sing Putin’s praises for passing a Soviet-like law that would be condemned by our own forefathers tells you pretty much everything you need to know about them.

As for Lively, he’s feeling his oats, claiming credit for Russia’s so-called “anti-propaganda” law and urging them on for more anti-LGBT policies. Last Friday, he released “An Open Letter to President Vladimir Putin,” cautioning the Russian leader “not to assume that you have fully solved the problem by the enactment of this law. The battle to protect your society from homosexualization has only just begun”:

In the coming months and years Russia and Her people will be increasingly portrayed by emotion laden and abusive hyperbole as bigoted haters, intent on exterminating homosexuals. Indeed, the propaganda campaign on that theme has already been initiated, with video footage purporting to show Russian neo-Nazis beating homosexuals now being circulated on the Internet, along with the false implication that this is the intent of your policy. This same propaganda machinery and methodology has been grinding away against the country of Uganda since 2009 when it introduced (but never passed) its Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) that I agree was far too harsh but which never reflected any intention of the Ugandan government to exterminate homosexuals as “gay” activists and their media allies continue to allege.

Indeed, this “gay” narrative that equates opposition to homosexuality with Nazi-like genocide is in part an attempt to obscure the ugly roots of the modern homosexualist movement in pre-Nazi Germany. German fascism was formed and facilitated by masculine-oriented male homosexuals in response to an effeminate model of homosexuality which held that all homosexualist men were actually female souls trapped in men’s bodies. Beginning in the 1860s the Femmes, following the Grandfather of Gay Rights, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, built a powerful social and political movement in Germany which focused on repealing the sodomy laws.

Offended by the constant characterization of male homosexuality as effeminate, the masculine-oriented Butches created their own movement grounded in the male warrior-cult philosophy epitomized by ancient Sparta. These were the first German fascists and from their ranks came first the Brown Shirted brawlers of World War I and then the Nazi Party. This thesis is heavily documented in my book The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which I co-authored in 1995 with researcher Kevin E. Abrams.

That was Friday. In case Putin missed Lively’s love-letter due to the long holiday weekend (Who knew they celebrated Labor Day in Russia?) , Lively has today posted a follow-up, in which he sings his “Praise for Putin“:

While America and Britain compete to see how fast they can turn their children into Sodomites, Russia has banned homosexual propaganda to youth. While the “mainstream” American and British press publish only pro-”gay” puffery and propaganda, Russia’s Pravda has become a counter-balance to their lies. While the US and UK public schools have erected an iron curtain to prevent students from encountering any pro-family arguments or advocates, the Russian schools are preparing their boys and girls for healthy, normal marriage. And while the “Land of the Free” and its Mother Country (which once promised that “Britons never, ever, ever shall be slaves“) embrace police-state tactics against Bible-believing Christians, the former Communist slave state is becoming a beacon of freedom to those who love God‘s design for the family.

…I will close this letter with the same words I wrote to him, invoking the battle we waged together against Nazism:

“Once again, thank you, President Putin, for standing firm in defense of the natural family, which is the essential foundation of all human civilization. Perhaps through the inspiration of your leadership, an alliance of the good people of our countries with those of your own, can once again in some cooperative fashion, redeem the future of mankind from a Fascist Leviathan, just as we did in World War II.”

Russia To IOC: We Won’t Arrest Gay People, Except When We Will

Jim Burroway

August 22nd, 2013

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak “reassured” — that’s the IOC’s word for it — the International Olympic Committee that Russia will comply with the Olympic Charter’s provision against discrimination. But…

In his letter, Kozak said the legislation does not impose any restrictions on sexual orientation, and stressed the Russian constitution prohibits discrimination against anyone based on sex, race or religion.

The law on gay propaganda, he said, centers on the “restriction of information that promotes non-traditional sexual relationships among children.”

“These legislations apply equally to all persons, irrespective of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, and cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation,” he said.

The letter added: “These requirements do not attract any limitations for participants and spectators of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on their legal right of residence in the territory of the Russian Federation or participation in any events stipulated in the Games program that are contradictory to the Olympic Charter or universally recognized standards of international law on human rights.”

Kozak’s vigorous defense of the law and his laughable definition of discrimination leaves unanswered what will happen to athletes or spectators if they make any statements or gestures that could be interpreted as “propaganda.” Which is fine with IOC President Jacques Rogge, who just wants everyone to forget that anything is happening at all. He hailed the letter as “strong written reassurances from the Russian government that everyone will be welcome at the games in Sochi regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Kirchick’s Stand on Russian Television

Jim Burroway

August 22nd, 2013

RT (Russia Today), a Kremlin-funded television “news” channel designed to sell Russia to the rest of the world, invited Jamie Kirchick to speak about the Bradley Manning sentencing. But noting that RT has already been talking non-stop about Bradley Maning for the 24 hours, Kirchick said it was time to change the subject for two minutes: “I’m not really interested in talking about Bradley Manning. I’m interested in talking about the horrific environment of homophobia in Russia right now.”

Kirchick spoke to RT from a studio in Stockholm. The drama continued even after the camera switched off:

He has since said the taxi driver in the car he was in on his way to the airport in Sweden when the taxi driver received a phone call instructing him to drop Kirchick off at the side of the road.

“So about halfway down the highway on the way to the airport, my driver gets a phone call from his boss saying that the car ride has been cancelled and that he’ll have to drop me off on the side of the road,” he said.

“And I told him that I would pick up the tab. But at the end, actually, at the airport, he said that the ride was free, so maybe we have some anti-Putin activists in the Swedish taxi company.”

And that’s the way to come out

Timothy Kincaid

August 21st, 2013

This is a smart, effective method to make the best of coming out.

August 21, 2013

Re: St. Petersburg International Film Festival / “Guest of Honor” Invitation

Dear Ms. Averbakh:

Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes.

However, as a gay man, I must decline.

I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and 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.

Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I’ll be free to make a different choice.

Until then.

Wentworth Miller

Member, HRC
Member, GLAAD
Member, The ManKind Project

Miller was the star of Prison Break which ran for four seasons (2005-2009) on Fox.

Pat Buchanan Wants The US To Be More Like Russia

Jim Burroway

August 14th, 2013

I never thought I’d see the day when Pat Buchanan would argue that the United States of America should throw out the First Amendment and emulate Russia:

Only yesterday, homosexual sodomy, which Thomas Jefferson said should be treated like rape, was outlawed in many states and same-sex marriage was regarded as an absurdity. Was that America we grew up in really like Nazi Germany? In the Catholic schools this writer attended, pornography – let alone homosexual propaganda – would get one expelled. Was this really just like Kristallnacht?

As Father Regis Scanlon writes in Crisis Magazine, in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated Catholic doctrine that homosexuality is a “strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” an “objective disorder.” That homosexual acts are unnatural and immoral remains Catholic teaching. Thus, if we seek to build a Good Society by traditional Catholic and Christian standards, why should not homosexual propaganda be treated the same as racist or anti-Semitic propaganda? We can no longer even agree on what is good and evil.

…Putin is trying to re-establish the Orthodox Church as the moral compass of the nation it had been for 1,000 years before Russia fell captive to the atheistic and pagan ideology of Marxism.

“The adoption of Christianity,” declared Putin, “became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped turn it into one of the largest world powers.”

Buchanan titles his post, “Which Side Are You On?” Good question, Buchanan. Which side are you on? America’s or Russia’s?

A Model for 2014 Olympians

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2013

Nick Symmonds is a straight ally and a middle distance runner who is in Moscow right now for the World Track and Field Championships. He took the silver medal in the men’s 800 meters, and told R-Sport (which is part of RIA Novosti, Russia’s state-owned news agency) that he was dedicating his win to his gay and lesbian friends back home. RIA Novosti said his statement made him “the first athlete to openly criticize Russia’s controversial anti-gay law on the country’s soil.”:

“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them,” he told R-Sport after running a 1:43.55 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. “Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested.”

…”I respect Russians’ ability to govern their people,” he said Tuesday. “I disagree with their laws. I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules.”

Symmonds had earlier said that he wouldn’t criticize Russia during the games.

The Unique Challenges of Russian Homophobia

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2013

It’s important to understand the particular nature of Russian homophobia if we ever hope to address it. In the U.S., much of our anti-gay politics emmanates from a politically influential religious class, and so it would be reasonable to assume that Russia’s anti-gay animosity springs from a similar source. And while the Russian Orthodox Church is virulently anti-gay, Masha Lippman says it would be a mistake to try to address Russian homophobia on religious grounds.

The country may appear to be fairly conservative, if one looks at its widespread homophobia or public condemnation of irreverence toward Russian Orthodox Church. Yet when it comes to other social habits, such as divorce, abortion, or birth rate, the picture is very different. Russia has one of the world’s highest rates of both divorce and abortion, and some of the most liberal laws on the latter. Russia’s birth rate is not dissimilar from that of secular cultures of western Europe. Premarital sex and single motherhood are fairly common; in one survey, a mere fourteen per cent of respondents said they believed a single parent can’t raise a child properly. And while a large majority of Russians identify themselves as Orthodox Christians, the proportion of those attending services or observing religious rituals in Russia is not dissimilar from many European countries.

A partial explanation of this discrepancy can be found in Soviet history. The early Soviet period involved a radical rejection of the ancien regime, a forced modernization by the Bolsheviks that included universal literacy and suffrage (along with the elimination of political choice, of course), as well as brutally imposed secularization, among other things. But the Soviet Union mostly missed the later, post-war stages of the Western social modernization, and especially the gay-rights movement. In the U.S.S.R., it was a crime to be a gay man. The atmosphere grew much freer for gays in the post-Communist period, yet gay rights have not become a nationwide issue until now, as the government has abruptly moved toward social conservatism.

This diary over at Daily Kos goes into it deeper, where Russian homophobia is seen in the context of Russian nationalism and distrust of foreigners. This is not the first time I’ve seen this; a number of Russians and citizens of former Soviet countries themselves have said this over the years:

In every way the homophobic tendency in contemporary Russia is riding the coattails of a decade’s worth of ethnic violence and xenophobia.  Even the horrific videos of Russians torturing young people because of their perceived sexual identity are a recent addition to an already crowded field of anti-immigrant videos, in which Russian neo-Nazis beat up, and in some cases kill, people they suspect of being non-ethnic Russians.  They share these videos on the internet for fun.  (If you can bear it, this short documentary on anti-immigrant crime is as eye-opening as it is horrific.)  On their own, these are the acts of fringe neo-Nazis like Maxim Martsinkevich (a major player in the torture video genre, who takes shirtless pictures and sexually violates LGBTs… read into that what you will.)  Taken more broadly, once you throw in mass unemployment, frustration, and malaise, you start to see these hateful, exclusionary beliefs drift more and more into mainstream discourse.

Another important aspect of this is still-widespread nostalgia for the USSR  - not the totalitarian policies per se, but the feeling that, for a couple of decades, Russia was an unchallenged world superpower, secure in its central place in international politics.  Not for nothing did Putin call the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”  This is all of a part with Russia’s attempts to assert itself on the national stage – think oil pipelines, Syria, etc. – as a pathetic echo for the glory days of Soviet power.  The gap between Russia’s (belief in its) former greatness and the inability to assert itself in the contemporary world has led to an ideological vacuum, conveniently filled with desperate nationalism.

Later, he adds:

No exaggeration here: there is a sadly widespread belief that the LGBT movement is a CIA-funded operation à la MKUltra.  For a local example, check out the current wiki page on Patriarch Alexy II, cached here, and note the section on his opposition to homosexuality.

That’s been one of the challenges in dealing with anti-gay politics in Africa, the belief that LGBT rights and that gay people themselves are a product of foreign meddling. Those charges find fertile ground in Africa where  European colonialism — and its import of sodomy laws — still casts a long shadow. That is why public threats of cutting foreign aide (as distinguished from private diplomatic engagement in which the same messages have been delivered) have sometimes been much more disruptive than helpful to LGBT advocates on the ground. The same potential effect could conceivable play out in Russia, where an attack on its laws, however repulsive and oppressive to human rights they may be, is seen as an attack on Russian sovereignty itself. This is where foreign protests can backfire.

That’s not to say that I’m against, for example, the Russian vodka boycott. I personally think it’s been a smashing success, although you won’t be able to measure it in economic terms. I don’t think you will see any impact on Russian vodka producers’ balance sheets, but you do see it in how people are suddenly talking about what’s happening in Russia, and their doing it on a daily basis. The so-called “anti-propaganda” law has been on the books since June, but it wasn’t until Dan Savage issued his call for a vodka boycott a month later that the media decided to take a look. And it has been a daily topic ever since.

Recognizing that this kind of pressure can exasperate Russian nationalism at the expense of LGBT people there doesn’t mean that we should suspend the boycott and call off all protests against Russia’s gross violations of human rights. I don’t see how we can cater to a culture’s xenophobic biases any more than than its homophobic ones. But I do think that there are some smart ways to go about it, and that we should consider following the lead of Russian LGBT activists who know their country and culture far better than we do. I think these examples are good ones to keep in mind:

In responding to the charge that queerness is a Western import, the St. Petersburg advocacy group Vykhod (“Coming Out”) put together an astute set of advertisements aimed at dismantling the rhetoric of Western cultural imperialism by showcasing various figures from Russian history.  It’s hard to argue that homosexuality is a CIA plot when so many famous Russians, particularly in the reasonably relaxed culture of the early 20th century, left such a prominent legacy on their culture while living quasi-openly as gay, lesbian, and bisexual. (Transgender history is less prominent but no less there, especially during the early Soviet years and, surprisingly, the 1960s.)  Tchaikovsky is of course the usual starting point, but actively open and out Russians included a diverse slate of artists, politicians, scientists… names like Georgy ChicherinMarina TsvetaevaSergei DiaghilevSophie Parnok… The list is very long, because turn-of-the-century Russia’s queer history is actually richer than anything contemporary in the West, where it was handled with much more euphemism.  … For their troubles Vykhod was labeled a “foreign agent” and fined 500,000 rubles.  So there’s that.

Quite a lot of Russian LGBTs have not kept silent, risking arrest and condemnation in order to make their existence known.  One worth getting to know is the “404″ movement (like their FB page here), a Russian spin on the “It Gets Better” web presence. Celebrity culture, so vital in turning around attitudes in America, has been considerably more muted, but there are exceptions: e.g. actor Aleksei Panin came out as bisexual in an interview earlier this year in order to draw attention to the widespread cultural intolerance; socialite and media figureKsenia Sobchak has been very outspoken against the homophobic law; news anchor Anton Krasovsky came out on air and was immediately fired, etc.  My first and most important piece of advice is this: get to know these people, share their stories, and don’t let them disappear into the memory hole.

Putin’s Thug State

Jim Burroway

August 12th, 2013

Scott Long dug into Russia’s social media to uncover the story behind the stories of neo-Nazi gangs abusing (and perhaps killing) young gay men and posting their videos on VK, Russia’s version of Facebook.

Maxim Martsinkevich is probably the place to begin. Nothing about the 29-year-old would-be architect’s page at VK, Russia’s answer to Facebook, suggests a particularly distinctive skinhead. He goes by his nickname, “Tesak,” variously translated “machete,” “cleaver,” or — my favorite — “slasher.” He likes steroids, protein shakes, pointless displays of masculinity (three videos show him having a tooth pulled minus anesthetic), and Adolf Hitler. Yet he’s quite innovative as Nazis go. Early in the Putin years, he was the driving force behind Format18, a violent group that called itself the “armed wing” of Russia’s National Socialist party.

Format18 regularly assaulted immigrants and dark people. Its creativity lay in deciding that visibility — movie cameras coupled with social media — was not its enemy, but its friend. It filmed the attacks, turning them into imitation music videos that went viral on YouTube and VK. Google “Format18″ and “funny” and you’ll figure out why: their savage sense of humor. “Lol, I love those videos,” one European neo-Nazi says. “It’s funny when they beat people up then burn their passports.” Some of the videos showed murders.

Still from a video of a 12-year old (R) being threatened and abused in Tambov; faces not blurred in the original. (Via Scott Long)

The neo-Nazi’s call themselves “Occupy Pedophilia,” in accordance with the mindset that equates homosexuality with pedophilia. While many of the victims in these videos are in twenties to fifties, some of those so-called “pedophiles” appear to be quite young. In fact, the thugs really don’t care about the distinction, but they’re happy to play up the confusion. It’s all a trope to stir hatred against pretty much everyone:

In Kamensk, the online news source Lenta.ru interviewed Occupy Pedophilia members. “Homosexuals are almost sacred in this country,” one leader complained. ”We are against pedophiles, but we also do not like homosexuals. I don’t know why homosexuals protect pedophiles.” He added:

Some representatives of homosexuals came to my home recently … They said we mock people. They asked why we hate them. They said they feel oppressed. It just happened that they both somehow jumped into the garbage cans.

“If you see two young men walking down the street and holding hands, what would you do?” the reporter asks. The answer: “Interrogation. And then it all depends on them.”

That slippage between gays and predators is a common enough prejudice, in Russia as elsewhere. On the other hand, when Western activists redefine the men simply as “gay” victims, they should be aware they’re just reinforcing a widespread Russian belief that gays are identical to pedophiles. They need to note the nuance and stress the difference, not just confirm the belief.

Some may argue that these neo-Nazi groups are criminal fringe groups and in no way represent Putin’s Russia. But that argument evaporates when we see Dmitri Kisilev, the anchor Vesti, the most popular news program on state-owned Russia 1, say that the “gay propaganda law doesn’t go far enough:

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“I think that just imposing fines on gays for homosexual propaganda among teenagers is not enough. They should be banned from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life.”

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