Exploring Russia’s Anti-Gay Propaganda Law

In recent years, the LGBT community and their straight allies have begun to make significant progress in expanding gay rights worldwide. Same-sex marriage is now legal in over a dozen states in the U.S., including the newly added state of New Jersey. While gays and lesbians in America rejoice over recent victories, sorrow plagues the LGBT community in Russia in lieu of the recent “anti-gay propaganda” law passed by President Vladamir Putin.

Demonstrators protest Russia’s new anti-gay propaganda law.

What Is the Anti-Gay Propaganda Law?

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been considering a number of laws restricting gay rights within Russia. In June, he passed the controversial anti-gay propaganda law, which bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” Russian lawmakers believe that the passing of the propaganda law marks a new era for the country– one where Russian people can live healthier and happier lives without being influenced by so-called “nontraditional sexual relations.”

Sochi for the 2014 Olympic Games

The controversial law has left much of the world in shock, especially as Russia prepares to host the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Many fear the newly passed legislation will be enforced upon Olympic spectators and athletes alike – both foreign and domestic.

In response to the growing worry, the government of Russia and the International Olympic Committee issued a statement reassuring concerned parties that the controversial law will not affect spectators or athletes during the 2014 Games.

“We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi,” said President Putin, “regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation.”

Controversy Spreads Worldwide – War With the LGBT Community

As the controversy spreads further, the LGBT community has taken a strong course of action worldwide. America, along with several other countries that strongly support LGBT rights, have lashed out at Russia, first by boycotting their liquor. Some bars have completely banned Russian vodka from entering their facilities, and continue to do so until a resolution for the propaganda law has been passed.

The boycott has turned into a worldwide campaign known as “Dump Russian Vodka,” and many bar owners and booze enthusiasts take it very seriously.

Russian liquor company Stolichnaya, however, issued a statement to the LGBT community proclaiming their support. The company’s CEO Val Mendeleev said she felt the law was distasteful and that she would support any efforts to promote fairness and equality within the LGBT community. To further her point, she posted on the Stoli homepage that she supports the efforts of the LGBT community against the Russian government in bold rainbow text blocks.

The liquor boycott campaign was only the beginning, as lawyers and other activists began circulating petitions demanding that international travelers who promoted such discrimination be placed on the “visa ban list.” While extreme, the LGBT community has even gone as far as petitioning a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympics in lieu of the new law.

The Beginning of a New War?

With many new laws being passed around the world to prevent the discrimination of the LGBT community and to show explicit interest in uniting the world, Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law sets the local gay and lesbian community back multiple steps.

Russia, being the largest country in the world, continues steadfast in their efforts against the LGBT community and provides their “valid” and “justifiable” reasons for the propaganda law passed. In contrast, the LGBT community states that Russia has only promoted additional violence to openly gay members of the LGBT community in Russia. By setting laws that make the act of being part of the LGBT community seem wrong, the Russian population will act accordingly – some even in an aggressive manner toward gay men and women.

While this might be true, is this enough reason to completely boycott the country? Should the 2014 Olympic Games be moved out of Russia? Will the Russian “war on gays” be successful?

About Adrienne Erin

Adrienne is a freelance writer and blogger who is always searching for the other side of the story. Look for more of her work by following her on Twitter at @adrienneerin or checking out her blog, Pongra.
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