Russian partially state-funded news channel RT has aired a special report on foreign perceptions of recently passed anti-gay laws, which appears to attempt to suggest that the majority of Russian support the laws, and calls US reports on the issue “warped”.
The report begins by citing a study which found that almost half of respondents said “homosexuality is a bad habit or a perversion”. It goes on to say “some even believe [homosexuality] could be the result of a mental trauma or an illness”.
Just 12% say they thought homosexuality was “normal”, according to the study.
The reporter then goes on to cite a similar survey from 1998, which showed similar outcomes, suggesting that the new anti-gay laws haven’t actually led to an increase in homophobia at all, but that it was always that way.
Cutting to a reporter, the video continues, saying that: “Supporters of the law suggest it represents the Russian majority,” and says that 30-years-ago it was illegal to be gay in Russia, so many believe the laws are not strict enough.
The report then appears to attempt to justify the law by answering questions such as “is being gay illegal in Russia now”, before saying “no- the crime is promoting non-traditional sexual relations to children”.
It also goes on, seeming to imply that the laws are more reasonable that has been made out because the laws only make the crime punishable by fines, rather than criminal punishment.
The report does feature a gay club, the owner of which reportedly said that “business is booming”, and a gay journalist who says that the gay community, particularly in Sochi, where a controversy surrounding the Winter Olympics is taking place, has a bustling gay community.
Others interviewed claim that the laws are not strict enough, and note the conservative nature of Russia, and the fact that the orthodox church still has a heavy influence on politics.
Today PinkNews published its 20 most shocking stories out of Russia so far, which includes a rise in violent incidents involving LGBT people. This includes arrests under the new laws, and incidents such as a man being raped with a beer bottle and murdered, for revealing that he was gay.
Conservative MP Mike Freer today told PinkNews he is appalled by the Russian Government’s stance on gay equality and that he would like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider moving the 2014 Winter Olympics from Russia.
Yesterday, author and television presenter Stephen Fry wrote an open letter to David Cameron, International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge and Lord Coe, urging for the 2014 Winter Olympics to not take place in Sochi.
In a statement, the IOC said it “respected Mr Fry’s opinion” and the committee was clear that “sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation”.
On Thursday, the Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Minister for Human Rights, Kerry McCarthy, told PinkNews that the UK Government needed to use next month’s G20 meeting in St Petersburg to raise the issue of gay rights with Russia.
A UK Government source also said that they anticipated the issue of homophobic oppression in Russia would be raised at the G20 Heads of Government meeting.
With international interest on the LGBT situation in Russia at an unprecedented level – on Thursday PinkNews published a collection of the most shocking LGBT stories to have come from the country in the past seven years.