Seamus Quigley discusses if the recent amendment to Russia’s Federal Law 135 are really about protecting family values or are they about oppressing ‘non-traditional’ relations and curtailing LGBTQ rights? We welcome your comments and encourage you to engage in thoughtful and respectful discussion.
Russia has been the centre of attention again over the last couple of months as a result of their latest draconian policy. The policy in question is the introduction of a bill banning the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations. This bill has attracted much controversy and the attention of highly recognised celebrities such as Madonna, who publicly advocated the freedom of expression and gay rights in St. Petersburg, and in doing so violating this oppressive law.
After being an integral part of the Soviet Union since its formation in December 1922, Russia officially became the Russian Federation from 25 December 1991, and is now recognised as one of the world superpowers along with nations such as the US and China. Russia is officially recognised as a semi- presidential constitutional democratic republic, comprising of a head of State, Vladimir Putin and head of Government, Dmitry Medvedev.
Let the Regression Begin
On June 29th 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law known as Federal Law 135 which amended sections of a similar piece of legislation to protect ‘childrens development’. This law aims to “protect children from information promoting the denial of traditional family values.” As reported in The Guardian newspaper, the ban is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values over western liberalism, which the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against Putin’s rule.
Anyone who is seen as promoting non-traditional sexual relations to minors will receive fines ranging from 4,000 – 5,000 rubles (€100) to 1 million rubles (€22,500). Foreigners face a similar risk if they transgress the law, though they also risk deportation or up to 15 days detention if they cannot pay the fine.
The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a multi-party representative democracy. Despite this political collectivism, we have seen on numerous occasions throughout history an individual’s influence in the regression of society both politically and socially. This has almost become unanimously a trait of established dictators. Benito Mussolini or ‘Il Duce’ and his policy on self sufficiency, Adolf Hitler and his belief in a unified Aryan race and now Vladimir Putin and his anti gay laws. What do they all have in common? IGNORANCE and also that none were successful with the exception for the latter which can be and will be defeated. Surely though Putin cannot be seen in such light as he is President of a constitutional republic comprising of a multi- party representative DEMOCRACY. The word democracy does indicate equality and co-dependently working together to establish development in a positive manner and not being the catalyst for regression of change and development. Despite all this, the law received 436-0 support in the Russian Duma (Lower House), and according to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, there was an 88 percent approval rating among the public. Are we to take this as Russia’s outlook or do we lead ourselves to believe that this research was focused on a particular cohort or subset of the population in which they knew that these people were staunch supporters of the current government? As this does tend to be the case in an Irish context with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, no other party exists besides them.
Now if this law is going to be maintained we can only think of how negatively affected future generations within Russia will be. Will homosexuality become so stigmatised that the disparity between “non- traditional” individuals and the rest of the population further widen or are the Russian government just biding their time with this law to discover a possible ‘cure’ for homosexuality? Time and ignorance will tell! This law added insult to injury when in 2012 in Moscow, the district court issued a ruling banning any non- traditional related parades such as Gay Pride parades until May 2112.
In less than 100 days Russia will be staging the Winter Olympics, a spectacle which will be watched by millions upon millions worldwide, leaving Russia probably at its most vulnerable with media attraction and constant debate surrounding Russia’s introduction of this unlawful and draconian policy. What you as an individual can do is watch this two minute clip surrounding both the Olympic Games and the matter of LGBT rights and electronically sign the related petition which will then be publicised to the whole world and more specifically the Russian government in time for the Games.