The LGBT Community often finds itself in the forefront of discrimination in today’s times, but nothing compares to Russia’s new anti-LGBT laws. In Russia, the lawmakers have recently passed a bill that bans “propaganda of homosexualism,” these laws state that anyone displaying pro-LGBT rights views would be arrested. In Saint-Petersburg, there was a ban against propaganda of homosexualism towards minors, but, in State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, there was an accepted federal ban on propaganda of homosexualism. These new laws do not discriminate against tourists, and, will not discriminate against athletes, or said tourists, who participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Russian officials have said that LGBT individuals can participate, but only if they keep their identity and sexual orientation a secret, much like the previous “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” laws that were accepted within the United States military. These laws are even preventing protests from occurring from those who do not agree with the laws. What they aren’t preventing however, are the violent anti-gay protests that occur within the country.
These anti-LGBT laws inhibit what is so often taken for granted in America as the freedom of speech and expression. People have been arrested in Russia for simply holding another’s hand, because they are of the same sex; which leaves citizens who are LGBT feeling at a loss. The country that is there to protect them leaves citizens out in the cold because of their sexual orientation. This also persecutes citizens who simply support the LGBT community from speaking out against what they believe is unjust in their government. These laws made to protect the youths in Russia, as well as the other “normal” citizens, are perpetuating hate crimes, and discrimination in the country. Along with that, when citizens who are LGBT feel as if their state, or country, does not support them, the risk of suicide goes up exponentially. The lawmakers also are trying to initiate LGBT “therapy” to help LGBT citizens become heterosexual again, which makes the citizens feel as if they are wrong in some way.
This type of behavior might seem out of the ordinary for many Americans, because we believe in the freedom of speech, or the freedom of expression, but unfortunately, laws such as these are not in America’s distant past. Though, many don’t support the LGBT community, this sort of discrimination against any subculture of society is wrong. As we learned through our own Civil Rights movement, we are one in the same despite skin color or orientation, or nationality, etc. What is most shocking about the Russian laws is the fact that they will affect Olympic athletes as they go into the games in 2014. This may result in the boycott of the games by many countries, which would change the dynamic of the games entirely. Along with the athletes, the Russian laws would also persecute the visitors of Russia who are going to attend the games as fans. This comes as a great injustice as the attendees of the games are not Russian citizens and might fear entering a country with such strong laws against something they might identify as, or support entirely.
Though they are written to protect Russian citizens, these laws are inherently instruments of injustice, though potentially unintentional. The laws are strict, and they act as oppressive rules that must be followed by all Russian citizens, and visitors to the country. Because of the very heavy Russian Orthodox population within the country, and Russia’s history of oppression with the nontraditional groups, many laws are fueled by their ideas of, “right and wrong.” Surprisingly though, much like the American constitution, the Russian constitution also protects the freedom of religion. Unlike America today though, Russia’s sense of tradition doesn’t lead to the practice of these freedoms quite as much as America; the culture and values, are of course, drastically different. Though, as many are sure, depending on what part of America you reside, Russian values may be shockingly similar to America’s.