Russian Duma criminalizes LGBT movement
Legislature endorses anti-gay violence
Russian riot police detain gay activists at a rally in central Moscow.
Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP
On June 11, the Russian parliament, or Duma, passed a bill by a vote of 436-0 that criminalizes organizing for LGBT equality. An individual can be fined $156, and an organization faces a $31,000 fine for disseminating information about LGBT issues. The law effectively endorses a growing violent and neofascist campaign against Russia’s LGBT community and its organizations.
On the day the law was passed, a group of activists who were protesting outside the Duma were attacked by hundreds of anti-gay bigots. The Russian police in response to the attacks arrested the activists.
A reactionary social campaign led by the Russian Orthodox Church aimed at misdirecting a growing movement of young people and disaffected workers protesting against the Putin government has resulted in a recent spate of murders and violent attacks on gay men.
In May, a 23-year-old man was tortured to death by two anti-gay bigots after he had told them he was gay while the three men were celebrating the defeat of the Nazis during World War II. The murderers beat him to death and raped him with beer bottles.
In early June, in the village of Kamchatka, a 39-year-old man was kicked and stabbed to death for engaging in same-sex love. Then his corpse was soaked in gasoline, put in the car he owned, and set on fire.
The Moscow city government has repeatedly denied permits for LGBT pride marches, and the police have repressed any rallies or marches. This was the case when 30 people were arrested for unfurling a rainbow flag outside the Duma on May 25, which marked the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality by the Russian government.
Neofascist violence and state repression
While Russia formally decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, two years after the overthrow of the Soviet Union, today the LGBT community finds itself facing greater neofascist violence and state repression that it ever faced in the latter part of the existence of the Soviet Union.
The rise of anti-gay bigotry and violence coupled with state repression stems from the overthrow of the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism, which has resulted in an attack on the living standards for the vast majority of the people in Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union. The growth and consolidation of a new bourgeoisie was made possible by the restoration of private property and the exploitation of one human being by another. Life expectancy dropped dramatically in the aftermath of the demise of the Soviet Union and the guarantee of a home, a job, an education, food and health care were replaced for many with homelessness, hunger, poverty and unemployment.
The new-found “freedoms” of capitalism gave rise to the degradation of women and reemergence of prostitution and human trafficking; national chauvinism has replaced international solidarity. The complement to the massive impoverishment of the working class has been the rise of a billionaire capitalist class across the former socialist country.
As a consequence, the Russian capitalist class has relied on divide-and-conquer tactics including anti-gay bigotry to divert people’s attention away from their wretched conditions into a violent and often neofascist campaign against LGBT people.
While the new capitalist class is directly responsible for the lower life expectancy, increased rates of suicide and alcoholism from their exploitation of the human and natural resources of Russia, capitalist politicians are hypocritically blaming gay people for the declining birth rate in the country.
The campaign against LGBT people has gone so far that President Putin’s office has announced it will submit an amendment later this year to ban foreign adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples as a defense of “traditional” families.
While the socialist governments of the Soviet Union did not for the most part conduct aggressive campaigns against anti-LGBT bigotry, LGBT people did not live in fear of violence and death under the socialist system. Today that violence and fear is not only rising but being supported and encouraged by the Russian capitalist class and its politicians.
While the United States, European capitalist countries and liberal human rights groups have denounced the passage of the bill, it is not done out genuine interest in the plight of LGBT people in Russia. The “solidarity” with LGBT activists and criticism of the Putin government is part of a campaign by the imperialist countries to attack and weaken Russia in the interests of maintaining global economic and political hegemony.
Attacks on LGBT people in Russia are not in the interests of the Russian working class. Beating and killing LGBT people will not solve the crisis of homelessness, unemployment and hunger facing Russian working people. As long as the Russian capitalist class is able to make LGBT people the focus of workers’ anger, LBGT people will face increasing violence, and Russian workers, both LGBT and straight, will have their basic human needs, once guaranteed under the Soviet government, continue to go unmet.
Content may be reprinted with credit to LiberationNews.org.