The Daily Evergreen

Anti-gay, pro-bigotry

Corrine Harris | Evergreen columnist

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Intolerance has become a staple of Russian culture, if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent defense of a new anti-gay law is any indication.

Russia is hardly a stranger to transgressions on human rights. Both the United States and the United Nations pride themselves on recognizing violations of unalienable rights but have ultimately failed to respond in kind to Russia’s new regulations. 

The darker side of Russia has manifested itself this past year in the illegalization of public displays of homosexuality or gay pride symbols as part of Russia’s anti-gay legislation. As of now, this law has been enacted with relatively little fallout or consequence.

In this instance, change can no longer be considered an ambition. It’s a necessity.

The law in question bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” around minors, according to MSNBC. Putin has emphasized that the decree is neither discriminatory nor hurtful. Despite Putin’s claims that the legislation was designed to protect children, public displays of affection between gay couples in Russia have effectively been forbidden.

Discrimination can be defined as any occurrence in which the treatment of a person is based on the group that person belongs to rather than the person’s individual virtue. Unless one prefers to accept a non-traditional definition of the word, this edict embodies the meaning of discrimination.

Gay rights activists claim that the law has made the situation for gay people in Russia more perilous, according to ABC News. Although few have been prosecuted under this specific law, it has contributed to an atmosphere of fear and served as a reminder of second-class citizenship. 

This act echoes legislation present during apartheid in the United States. The homophobia present at the level of the Russian government might not blast apart the populace like water from the fire hoses of Alabama policemen in the 1960s, but it’s certainly present and lingering.

Putin justifies this violation of human rights by equating gays with pedophiles, according to the Associated Press. His accusation that gays are more likely to abuse children is unfounded and devoid of logic that mentally-sound individuals can follow.   

There are two major possibilities regarding this situation. The law might be a token of Putin or his colleagues’ homophobia, but there is a chance that this legislation is nothing more than a smokescreen in the latest ploy by Russia’s most famous political thug to distract citizens from more serious problems in the failing state of Russia.  

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, which was two years after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. However, bigotry and political thug-ism are still in full force.

Russia will host the Sochi Winter Olympics this year in the midst of its blatant oppression of gay culture. Human rights activists are calling for a boycott of the Winter Olympics, according to CNN.  

As wonderful as such a boycott would be, the belief that it would happen is a fool’s paradise. Like Russia, China is a paradigm of civil rights atrocities and no one considered boycotting the 2008 Summer Olympics hosted in Beijing.

Thus, amid violations of gay rights and terrorist threats, the Sochi Winter Olympics will go on, dooming gay athletes to take their closets with them. Revolution for gay rights in Russia will only proceed if Putin experiences severe and lasting fiscal consequences as a result of this legislation.

As the United States and United Nations contemplate their reaction to Russia’s anti-gay law, they should consider that ignoring the death of human rights will inevitably result in funerals for actual humans. See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil is not a motto any government should live by.

Corrine Harris is a senior animal science major from Edmonds. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.

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Anti-gay, pro-bigotry