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Analysis: Why Russia is defying the global trend towards LGBT equality

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  1. Yes, the strength of the Orthodox Church in Russia is largely to blame for the general hostility towards gays.

    Much the same attitude exists in that other country that is dominated by the Orthodox Church, Greece, although in Greece there have been no moves to pass legislation against LGBTs. However, Greece’s facist party, now with 20 members in the Greek parliament, is openly hostile towards LGBTs and in past years has urged the populace to wreck Athens’s rather tame Pride Day.

    My point is that, yes, it’s absolutely true: the grip of the religiously deluded is largely to blame for the state-sanctioned homophobia of Russia.

    1. Pavlos Prince of Greece 13 Feb 2013, 7:10pm

      Very true. Only difference: in Greece nobody is questioned historical identity of country as very important and integral part of all Western civilisation and are proud of it; in Russia discussion about gay rights today is nothing more or less than postmodern version of very old conflict in the Russian society between supporters of Western culture (‘zapadniki’) and clerical-nationalistic vision of ‘Slavic Russia’.

    2. This entire post is a disgusting example of religious bigotry.

  2. In reality, religion in the West doesn’t play a factor in whether a person supports gay rights or not. A recent poll shows that Catholic Americans are overall more likely to support gay rights than any other religious group in the United States. Gays who can’t grasp this are as guilty of prejudicial and stereotyping as those who belittle gays.

    1. Jon "maddog" Hall 13 Feb 2013, 3:13pm


      Do you have a reference for that poll? I find it hard to believe that Catholic Americans are “more likely to support gay rights than any other religious group in the United States” such as the Unitarian Universalists or the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

      Also, in reality religion in the west DOES play a factor in whether a person supports gay rights or not. It may not be the only factor, but it is a strong one. To deny that this is not true is not facing reality.

    2. Yes, Marco, please do provide a link to credible evidence that Catholic Americans are more likely to support gay rights than any other religious group in the United States.

      And, if possible, please provide a link to credible data showing the percentage of Catholic Americans (in relation to all Catholic Americans) who support gay rights.

      Thank you.

  3. Not necessarily a “global” trend, but yeah Russia seems keen on that.

  4. The simple solution is to ban all trade and travel with russia and other homophobic countries and let them wallow in their medieval mindset. When they have either all starved or had a change of heart we can let them back into the real world. They are not human enough to be worth bothering with.

    1. Viktoriya of Moscow 13 Mar 2013, 12:02am

      Whoa there, Sevrin. Are you implying that I and my fellow Countrymen should be punished by outside countries because the land we live on, Russia, is burdened by homophobia? We’re not medieval, not in our mindset nor in our ways; we don’t burn gays at stakes, our goal is not solely survival, we do not have warped views of science, religion, or law: we’re a Country that is different than your own, and you simply do not understand our way of life and living.

      I’m a teenage lesbian whose parents watch the Television with aforementioned gay-bashing programmes airing and whose friends openly condemn the LGBT community in Russia. I want rights as a teenager and as a woman and as a gay just as much as anyone else who is suppressed of those basic human needs. But it will come in time, and hopefully not too far in the future.

      However, if you do really believe in your idea that having your country and the others stop trading with us, I pity your medieval view of how to solve a problem.

  5. It’s true that a majority of rank and file Catholics in the USA support gay rights:

    The Greek and Russian Orthodox Church (along with Roman Catholicism) trace their animosity toward gays back to John Chrysostom (a 4th century “Doctor” of the early Christian church) who compared sodomy to murder: “The murderer dissevers the soul from the body, but [the sodomite] ruins the soul with the body. . . . For I should not only say that thou hast become a woman, but that thou hast lost thy manhood.”

    1. Thanks for the link, Jerry. It confirms the impression I’ve always had as a gay Catholic that the laity is more liberal than the clergy on sexual issues. How many Catholics have ever followed the official teaching of the Church on masturbation, sex outside marriage, contraception, and divorce? There has always been a healthy disrespect for the advice of the CELIBATE clergy on these matters. And this applies A FORTIORI to gay sex. If the priests display such a lack of understanding of heterosexual behaviour, how likely is it that they would have a more liberal understanding of homosexual behaviour?

      In the case of the Russian Orthodox Church, I also doubt the laity are following the lead of the clergy. But for quite different reasons. Homophobia is part of the repertoire of Russian nationalists, especially in this post-Soviet era when many Russians feel their country has lost power and prestige. If anything, the Russian church is jumping on the nationalist bandwagon.

      1. Viktoriya of Moscow 13 Mar 2013, 12:21am

        As a citizen of Russia, I can confirm that The Church certainly is “jumping on the Nationalist bandwagon”, indeed, which is particularly unfortunate because it further binds the prejudice against the LGBT community within Our Church and the prejudice of our Government. You’ve completely gotten it right, Joe Mac. At least SOMEONE does in this comment section!

    2. Jerry, thanks for that link. I’ve followed it and found the following, which seems to suggest that in the USA Catholic “millennials” (Catholics aged 18 to 29) are, as you say, generally in favour of gay rights, with roughly 60% to 70% of “millennials” supporting various gay rights issues, while only 1 in 3 “seniors” (Catholics aged 30 and above) are in favour of such issues.

      Despite the above qualifications of the sweeping generalisation that “most American Catholics support gay rights”, I must say I am surprised. I don’t think we’ve had indications of similar support from Catholics here in the UK, and most certainly not from their leaders. But then again I notice the report (below) acknowledges that support for gay rights in America stops with the laity!

  6. I cannot say I fully support the author. He clearly identified several important aspects, but probably because of limited real life experience he failed to point out the most important one, and that is the public information void. I don’t live in Russia, but I assume the situation is comparable to the country I currently live in. There simply is no discussion about the subject in public. This is so bad that you even tend to welcome any opinion, included negative, just to “give a stir”. Because when there is no motion, it starts to rot.

    The current news from France and England about same-sex marriage is one of the very rear occasions, if any at all, when people are incited to think about the subject.

    1. Viktoriya of Moscow 13 Mar 2013, 12:09am

      Precisely! Having just read this article in Moscow Herself, I am quite shocked of the demonisation of how LGBT Countrymen are treated, for there is little to demonise when very little is happening. As part of the LGBT community, I know to keep my head low while maintaining my own internal integrity and identity. There are view occasions where a riot has been instigated. It’s simply not talked about unless something extraordinary, such as the pro-LGBT rock band “Pussy Riot,” creates an uproar.

      This article has good points on the majority of Russians being anti-gay, but it has been splashed with one-time occasions and flashy statistics.

  7. I live in USA and know Russian Orthodox relatives who hate every other religion, and are anti-gay. Their form of hate is part of their make up. They refuse to talk me when I am in their presents because I am Gay. These people are brought up to hate any thing that does not reflex their strong Orthodox beliefs. This is in America and that does not stop them to show hate.

    1. Yes, there’s a strongly insular, inward-looking, aspect to the Russian Orthodox identity, just as there is in the Greek Orthodox identity, and the Jewish identity.

    2. Viktoriya of Moscow 13 Mar 2013, 12:14am

      Your comment comes from a first-person, singular account from one singular person. Do not degrade Russians as a whole due to your personal experience with relatives of yours.

      Just because your are in the USA, your relatives should not be expected to surpress their views ( dare I say ‘hate’ ) once they enter your country. Using terms such as “these people” and “their form of hate” when referring to your relatives is offensive and incorrect. Please, refrain from mashing the entire Russian Population and your Russian relatives together.

  8. Yes Greece together with Italy are the only two countries of “old” Europe, that are left behind in promotion of gay rights. Nevertheless there are laws in Greece that protect LGBT , but more should be done. Especially with the Civil Partnership law, for which greek lgbt groups are now in European court against the largely conservative governement , which keeps postponing it.
    Greek church may be against gay civil unions, but it has also stated that it s a matter of the state to solve.
    The main problem now is still the minimal media coverage of any serious lgbt affair, and of course the rise of the neo-nazi party which entered the parliament (although it hasn’t really launched any campaign against lgbt)

    9 th Athens Pride is going strong also this year, it has the Mayor’s approval and some patronage, and of course the governemnt’s protection.
    And of course there are pro -gay political parties in parliament. We just need to combine all this , in order to further improve lgbt presence.

    1. I admire your optimistic point of view re civil rights progress for Greek gays, but as someone who has followed the situation for many years, I believe the progress made thus far has been successfully blunted by the Greek gov’t and church. The Greek gov’t has openly lied in international conferences about its initiatives on behalf of Greek LGBTs. Also, I do not know of a single openly gay politician, or even “gay friendly” pol in Greece who is actively promoting civil rights protections for Greek LGBTs. The opprobrium and hostility to being openly gay extends to media where kisses between gay male characters are still censored. Actors, the producer and director performing in a gay-themed play (Corpus Christi) have also been arrested and successfully charged with blasphemy by a member of the clergy. The laws have not substantially changed and until you have openly gay men and women elected to office, you will lack the political authority you need to make meaningful changes.

  9. Christopher in Canada 13 Feb 2013, 11:04pm

    It all comes down to the level of public education. We take it for granted in the West, but in reality, it’s less than 150 years old as a tradition/institution.

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