I’ve never been to Russia, but my entire family was born there. It was my mom’s birthday last night, and instead of the usual disco-ball, chain-smoking and eating smoked fish until 2 a.m. parties we had when I was a kid, we just barbequed and tried not to melt in the sun. I thought it would be the perfect time to bring up the new law Russian president Vladimir Putin signed that punishes citizens and tourists for being openly homosexual so I could get an insider’s perspective on the matter.
“So, what was gay culture like when you guys lived there?” I asked.
“There wasn’t one. You would go to jail if you were gay; it was considered an illness,” my uncle told me.
“There were just as many homosexuals then as there are now, but everyone hid that part about themselves. I imagine it’s still the same now,” my aunt told me.
“Even clearly gay or lesbian celebrities get married to the opposite sex and deny any affiliation with the LGBT community. They don’t want to get in trouble,” my sister-in-law added.
Putin’s new laws are extremely rigid and harken back to their authoritarian rulership days my aunt and uncle mentioned. The law fines citizens and tourists up to 200,000 rubles or $6,240 for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” This “propaganda” includes hand-holding, displaying a rainbow flag, and wearing flamboyant clothing. Apparently when Elton John performed in Russia, people complained his stage outfits fell under “gay propaganda”. So if you like glitter, vibrant colors, and Elton John, Russia is NOT the place for you. Sorry.
The reason for these absurd laws is so same-sex couples don’t have a “’distorted understanding’ that gay relations and heterosexual relations are socially equivalent, and risk spreading Western liberalism,” because heaven forbid Russia follows our recent footsteps in promoting and encouraging equality amongst all sexual orientations. What’s even more ludicrous, is that Putin claims this new law isn’t meant to discriminate against the LGBT communities, but is there to “protect children from pedophilia!”
Oh, Putin. This isn’t the first time a Russian leader has displayed flawed logic or failed to get with the times, but I won’t go there. Where’s Pussy Riot when you need them? Oh, wait. They’re in jail. Hopefully this archaic philosophy will negatively impact tourism, and Putin will re-think his silly laws. In the meantime, there are plenty of evolved countries that welcome same-sex couples, and 13 countries that even have same-sex marriage (like New Zealand and Uruguay)if you’re looking to travel the world without being discriminated against or plan a destination wedding.
Featured image via