I had the feeling I mispoke in class today when I said that it is illegal to be gay in Russia. Technically, that’s not true. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993. (Notably it was first decriminalized the year of the Russian Revolution, 1917, and recriminalized with the consolidation of Stalinist power in 1933.) See below:
Homosexuality in Russia – unlike more than 40 countries in the Commonwealth and 70 worldwide – is not illegal. To date, over six months since the law came into force, fewer than a dozen people have been fined for “gay propaganda”. Not a single person has been jailed. Russian police do not have powers to detain people they suspect of simply being gay or lesbian, as a New York Times leader erroneously stated last year. If this were so, then how do we explain the fact that gay clubs are able to advertise and operate in Moscow and other big cities?
If Putin is indeed waging war on Russia’s LGBT community, then why has he not followed the example of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, which has just introduced a new law that stipulates jail sentences of up to 14 years for gay people? Or India, the world’s largest democracy, where the supreme court recently reinstated a colonial-era ban on gay sex? If he wants to get really harsh, of course, Putin could look to Saudi Arabia, whose habit of executing homosexuals has done little to break up what Barack Obama has called the “long history of friendship” between Washington and Riyadh. This, of course, is the same Obama who has “no patience” for Russia’s gay propaganda law.