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Russia continues persecuting LGBTs

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 23:12

Let us be honest about the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has an abysmal civil rights record.

When we talk about human rights and freedom of expression and speech in Russia, we cannot help but remind ourselves of the Russian feminist punk group “Pussy Riot” which has been in prison since a performance that was considered “offensive” by the government.

It is safe to say with past practices like these that Putin has little concern for freedom of expression and speech in Russia, especially if he finds that speech to be “offensive.”

The LGBT movement in Russia as a whole has also been added to Putin’s huge list of persecuted people and groups as stiff penalties and repressive tactics have been used on gay people, transgendered people and LGBT activists across Russia.

And with the new anti “gay propaganda” laws that have been put in place in Russia, next year’s upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi will be surrounded by an atmosphere of political controversy and tension as it is held there.

Some LGBT activists have called for the boycott of certain goods from Russia and even the Winter Olympics, but some activists believe that the second option would have little effect.

It is only expected that some activists or even athletes will try to find a way to use this world spectacle to make a statement against the state’s new homophobic laws.

Even though Putin says that the LGBT community is welcome in his country and that he does not want Russians to “hate gays” in response to the negative international backlash, many do not believe him. This is for good reason, considering Russia’s recent homophobic legislative and social history.

In 2006, the Ryazan region banned propaganda of homosexuality for minors and called for stiff penalties and fines up to 20,000 rubles — equivalent to about $600 in U.S. currency —  for anyone who broke these laws.

Simply telling children that homophobia is hateful and wrong could get you punished. Even telling children that LGBT people exist could have repercussions.

In 2007, a group of neo-Nazis attacked LGBT activists.

When the police finally intervened, they arrested the activists who had been attacked.

There have been countless tactics of repression and violence against the gay community in Russia, with no signs of letting up.

With these kinds of things happening in Russia and their new homophobic laws that have gone national with the help of social conservatives pushing for anti-gay laws, one has to wonder why homophobia is such an persistent force in our political society.

These kinds of laws and views are destructive to human rights, civil rights and dignity in general.

Homophobia has led to repressive laws and violence that has even led to the deaths of some LGBT people in Russia.

What is happening in Russia today should tell every American how destructive homophobia can actually be to civil liberties.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Homophobia has got to go!

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