Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.S. issues travel warning for homosexuals in Russia with passage of 'homosexual propaganda' law

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

While Russia has liberalized certain social liberties after the fall of the Soviet Union, the nation still has the strictest rules governing sexual behavior. President Vladimir Putin has passed a "homosexual propaganda" law, an ambiguously worded edict that makes it "illegal to spread information about non-traditional sexual behaviors" to minors, i.e. those younger than 18 years of age. There are hefty fines for those who break the law, and foreigners are also subject to fines and risk deported.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Human Rights Watch, the crackdown is part of Putin's current agenda of promoting conservative values.
 
Crackdowns against homosexuals are nothing new in Russia. In 1933 the Soviet regime imposed a law banning sexual relations between men - punishable by a five-year prison term. While the law was lifted after the fall of the Soviet Union, homosexual activity is still very much frowned upon. 

Gay rights marches are routinely broken up and scenes of police detaining activists. Demonstrators with the Moscow Gay Pride movement were detained in Moscow last week for holding an unsanctioned rally and for "promoting untraditional sexual relations." 


Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev says that crimes against homosexuals are also on the rise. "Many gay people want to immigrate and they ask me to help [them] get political asylum, fearing for their safety," he said.


A 23-year old gay man was allegedly murdered in the city of Volgograd on the Victory Day holiday. Russian investigators said another man in Kamchatka was also murdered in June because he was gay.


As for the new law, a whopping 88 percent of the nation supports it, even though most have never seen such "homosexual propaganda."


"These restrictions are popular with [Putin's] political constituency" and can be used as a 'political boost,'" director of the organization's European and Central Asian division Hugh Williamson told NBC News. He added that he did not believe the crackdown was provoked by the activities of the gay community.


One underlying reason for the crackdown may because that the Russian population has been steadily falling since the early nineties. It shrank from 148.6 million in 1993 to 141.9 million in 2010, according to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service. 


Putin has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church, and his government has introduced various social programs to promote young couples having more children. 
Putin has also pushed through another law banning gay foreign couples from adopting Russian children. All U.S. adoptions of Russian children have since been banned. 

In response, the U.S. state department issued a travel warning for homosexuals in Russia. "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is widespread in Russia, as harassment, threats, and acts of violence have been targeted at LGBT individuals. Government officials have been known to make derogatory comments about LGBT persons," the warning said. 


Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)