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Posts for December, 2013

Anti-Gay Messaging in Ukraine Fails, but Putin is all “Onward Christian Soldiers”

Randy Potts

December 10th, 2013

Ukrainians hack away at Kyiv’s last remaining statue of Lenin during pro-EU protests this weekend on the 22nd anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine holds the largest demonstration in its recorded history while, back in Moscow, Putin decides to restructure the Russian state press agency the very next day.  To head up the newly-reformed agency Putin chose Kiselyov, who famously said that the internal organs of homosexuals should not only be banned from consideration in organ transplants but should also be burned and buried separately from heterosexuals.

I’ve been arguing that while there’s no direct evidence Putin has spearheaded anti-gay legislation in Russia (it started as a grass roots movement in the provinces), he has been quick to capitalize on the legislation’s potential.  His popularity waning, Putin has sought to bolster his support by reaching out to the Russian Orthodox leadership, harassing immigrants (and sparking a recent anti-immigrant pogrom in a Moscow suburb), and signaling that the Kremlin will stand behind any and all movements seeking to discredit homosexuality.  Anti-gay attacks are on the increase across Russia with bomb threats at St. Petersburg’s recent LGBT film festival, teachers and journalists fired for being gay, vigilante groups baiting and  torturing gay men — all this while the state press turns a blind eye.

The protests in Ukraine have been an interesting test case on anti-gay sentiment in the slavic world.  Buzzfeed recently reported that pro-Russian groups in Ukraine as well as leaders in Moscow attempted to drum up Ukrainian anti-gay sentiment as a means to discredit the pro-EU movement in Kiev with advertisements, tweets, and articles telling Ukrainians that choosing EU membership would mean choosing gay marriage.  While EU membership does not require gay marriage rights, it is true that the EU demands a certain level of respect for LGBT people to which Eastern Europe is unaccustomed.  It has all been, seemingly, for naught — Ukrainians have ignored the anti-gay messaging and instead come out in force to protest President Yanukovych’s recent tilt away from EU and towards Russia, somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people showing up to show solidarity with the pro-EU movement on Sunday.

Provocateurs walked through the streets of Kiev in late November holding rainbow flags and pretending to be pro-EU demonstrators. The state of gaydar in Ukraine could use a little improvement …

 

What does all this mean for Sochi and the Winter Olympics?  Putin’s choice of Kiselyov is a clear indication that he’s not taking the failure to drum up anti-gay sentiment in Ukraine to heart; meanwhile, activists in the U.S. are planning to openly protest anti-gay Russian legislation at the Winter Olympics by encouraging Olympic athletes and spectators to wear “Principle 6” clothing, a reference to the non-discrimination section of the Olympic charter.   It’s hard to imagine that a protest that subtle will be understood by Russians watching the Olympics on state television, but if the goal is encouraging pro-gay solidarity in the West then it may well help.

Ukrainians, for their part, seem to have spoken — however unpopular gay people may be in Eastern Europe, Putin and his Customs Union is even less so.

Putin Reorganizes State Media, Names Anti-Gay TV Host As Head

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2013

Via QueerRussia:

Dmitry Kiselev

Russian president Vladimir Putin have signed a decree which assigns a homophobic TV presenter Dmitry Kiselev as a head of the restructured state sponsored news agency “Rossiya Segodnya” (Russia Today). Kiselev stirred controversy in April, 2012 when during his TV show he said that imposing fines on gays for homosexual propaganda is not enough, they should be “banned from donating blood, sperm, and their hearts should be buried or burned in case of a car crush as unsuitable for prolonging someone’s life”.

Putin has decreed that RIA Novosti, the previous Russian news agency, will be shut down, along with state radio Voice of Russia. The BBC adds some context:

During Mr Putin’s time as Russia’s leader, RIA Novosti has tried hard to produce balanced coverage for Russian and international audiences, our correspondent says. Although state-owned, it has reflected the views of the opposition and covered difficult topics for the Kremlin, our correspondent adds.

Just last August, Kiselev told his television audience on state-owned Russia 1:

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.”

Georgia President Warns Putin’s Anti-Gay Campaign Part of Larger Effort To Influence Ex-Soviet Republics

Jim Burroway

October 3rd, 2013

Buzzfeed’s report by Max Seddon is the only original source I’ve run across, but I think it deserves attention. Outgoing Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili told the United Nations General Assembly last week that Russia’s foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin is “fueled by intolerance” in a bid to increase its influence over other countries of the former Soviet Union. The Russian delegation walked out during Saakashvili’s remarks. Saakashvili later expanded his comments in an interview with Seddon:

Saakashvili is concerned that a wave of anti-gay pressure inspired by Russia’s law may spread to Georgia: Moldova has already adopted a similar law, and Armenia came close to doing so last month. In May, 50 LGBT activists who attempted to hold a pride parade in the capital, Tbilisi, had to flee after thousands of Georgians – led by Orthodox priests – chased them through the streets, roughing up anyone they suspected of being gay. In the aftermath, anti-gay Georgians told media that they were angry that tolerance was being forced upon them by the West.

Saakashvili says the Kremlin’s embrace of anti-gay policies is Putin’s last desperate attempt to rein in his old empire. “He had nothing to offer to his former zone of influence. He has no soft power. He has no economic benefits to offer them,” Saakashvili says. “So what he’s telling them: ‘OK, Europe is promising you much more, it’s a better market, they might give you subsidies, they might give you lots of new opportunities and openings. But what you should know is Europe is all about gay rights. If you go to Europe, your family values will be undermined, your traditions will be destroyed. So we as Orthodox unity, we should stick together.’”

In 1991 and 1992, Georgia fought a war against Russian separatists in the Georgian republic of South Ossetia. That war ended with much of South Ossetia in the hands of a Russian-backed government that was unrecognized elsewhere in the world. In 2008, Georgia launched an attack to regain control of South Ossetia in a war that saw Russian troops cross into Georgia to occupy South Ossetia and Abkhazi, where they remain today.

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.

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.”

Putin Signs Anti-Gay Law Amid Clashes in St. Petersburg

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure which effectively bans all advocacy for LGBT people:

The law introduces fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($166) for citizens who disseminate information “directed at forming non-traditional sexual setup” in minors or which may cause a “distorted understanding” that gay and heterosexual relations are “socially equivalent”, the publication showed.

The fines go up to as much as 200,000 rubles ($6,600) for officials if such “propaganda” is disseminated through the media or internet. Foreigners will not only be fined but face administrative arrest up to 15 days and eventual deportation, the law says. Organisations face fines of up to 1 million rubles and shutdown of their activity for 90 days.

Meanwhile, a pro-gay Pride march in St. Petersburg was violently broken up by police and Russian nationalists:

Media reports estimated that several dozens of LGBT activists came to the Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole) in the city’s downtown to rally for gay people’s rights in Russia. The event was attended by some 200 of anti-gay activists urging to ban the rally and throwing eggs at their opponents.

“After the complaints of local residents, representatives of the local administration and the police warned the protestors that their protest was illegal and asked them to leave,” a police spokesperson said. Police officers then broke up the protest and arrested dozens of gay rights activists, the spokesman added.

The Russian LGBT network said on its Facebook page Saturday that several activists were beaten up by their opponents during the event, and more than 50 were held by the police. Eight of the anti-gay activists were detained as well, the police said. One of the police officers was injured while trying to detain an anti-gay activist, local Fonatanka.Ru news website reported.

The AP reports that “About 200 nationalists also gathered at the rally, chanting slogans such as ‘Sodomy will not pass,’ and throwing eggs and rocks at the gay-rights activists, who numbered about 40.”