Victoria (names in this article have been modified to protect interviewees’ privacy), an 18-year-old teenager from Russia, states that “the government does not realize the full ‘homosexual potential’ of my country.” She does not see any sense of “gay propaganda” and finds the new laws “ridiculous” since “the officials cannot prohibit something that does not even exist in this world.
In 2013 the Russian Government restricted any mentions of LGBTQ+ community among the minors, declaring them as propagandistic activities. In October of 2022, a new law, which claims to “protect traditional values,” was introduced by the State Duma, Moscow’s lower house of parliament. It prohibits members of the public to promote their sexual orientations or gender identities and to raise awareness among others. All media sources, books and movies with LGBTQ+ mentions have been completely banned in Russia.
According to the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation, the “demonstration of not traditional relationships” can lead to a fine of up to 400,000 RUB (around $6,700 Cdn) for individuals and up to 5 million RUB (around $83,350 Cdn) for organizations as well as an suspension of their activities. for up to ninety days.
While announcing the new law, Vyachslav Volodin, the chairman of the State Duma, referred to polls held among the citizens of European countries, stating that around 16% of Europeans aged from 14 to 29 years old identify as LGBTQ+. He went on to claim that in the American state of Maryland, around 45% of students are unsure about their sexual orientation. This, the chairman claimed, is all caused by “propaganda.” The chairman did not cite sources for these claims.
According to Volodin, “Russia has its own traditions, conscience, an understanding that we need to think about children, families, the country, to preserve what our parents passed on to us instead of normalizing the western stupidity.” According to his speech, the younger Russian generation should be saved from all the “sodomy, sins and darkness” that is being promoted in western countries.
His message has found some acceptance within Russia. Irina, a 57-year-old woman from Northern Russia, told 8forty that she does not see any downsides to the law and fully supports it.
“Why should it be propagated?” Irina told 8forty. “It is unnatural, people should decide on their own whether they will become gay or not,” and that “since it is not a normal thing, it should not be discussed and justified either.”
Irina showed a reporter videos from a telegram channel, with approximately 60,000 members, expressing indignation about LGBTQ+ activists all around the world. In the channel, the author criticizes the events in the “western world” and expresses his opinion on “what would happen to Russia if the law were not accepted” and focuses on “how Ukraine is spreading fake information about the Russian bombings.”
Currently, Russian citizens cannot be imprisoned for breaking this law. However, that may change soon, according to the political scientists as if the law from the Criminal Code will be modified, the “lawbreakers” can be sentenced to an imprisonment.
While the government is trying to make changes in the Criminal Code so that some amendments about the “gay propaganda” law can be introduced, the younger generations are left alone with their thoughts of leaving the country.
“My sexual orientation was identified when I was a young kid and none of the ‘traditional relationship propaganda’ made me doubt it. Therefore it cannot work vice versa, affecting others’ sexual orientations,” says Victoria.