OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Russia
Less than a year ago, the Russian city of St. Petersburg passed a law banning “homosexual propaganda,” with expected hysterical results. From equal rights marches to rainbows on milk cartons, no one seems to be safe from the accusing eyes of the ruling United Russia party in their search for violators of their new law. Over 70 arrests and countless accusations have been made since the law’s introduction, and, naturally, that applies to… visiting pop divas.
Last month, Madonna was the subject of a Russian court case accusing the singer of “traumatizing minors” by advocating for gay rights during a concert in August. While Madonna didn’t attend or comment on the case, the plaintiffs sought 333 million rubles (about $10 million dollars) in damages, claiming that the singer’s advocacy would cause the nation’s birth rate to plummet and “erode the nation’s defense capability by depriving the country of future soldiers.”
The case was dismissed, mercifully. That hasn’t stopped an appeal from being launched, however, and a new pop star has now been put in the bizarre law’s cross hairs.
Lady Gaga has now been accused of promoting homosexual propaganda at the beginning of a concert last Wednesday. “We will contact the prosecutors and the law enforcement agencies to carry out a thorough investigation of the situation,” Vitaly Milonov, the MP responsible for the anti-gay law, told the media.
- Lawsuit against Madonna dismissed in Russia [Associated Press]
- Lady Gaga accused of illegally promoting gay rights in Russia [The Globe and Mail]
Other countries take note. If you enact crazy anti-gay laws forbidding any positive portrayals of homosexuality, here’s what you can expect to happen:
A popular brand of milk is being accused of illegally promoting homosexuality in St-Petersburg, Russia. The milk, a PepsiCo-owned brand, features a jolly dairy farmer, standing in a lovely green field beside a rather happy-looking cow, with a rainbow arching across the sky.
“A rainbow appeared on the [milk] cartons, a world-renowned symbol of the gay movement,” said Anatoly Artukh, a member of the anti-gay lobby group People’s Council. “That immediately put me on alert.”
Put him on alert for what, exactly? That someone, somewhere is going to sit down for breakfast, see a rainbow on their milk carton and think: “Hey, you know what I’ve never questioned before? My sexuality. Maybe I’ll call that number I saw written on the wall of that truck stop’s men’s room.”
Heaven forbid a real rainbow should ever appear across the sky in St-Petersburg. The meteorologists would have quite a bit of explaining to do.
Of course, here in Canada, milk that has undergone the homogenization process is marketed as “homo milk.” And it’s marketed to children. I know a lot of people who drank homo milk growing up that didn’t turn out gay, but then again—there wasn’t a rainbow on the carton.
- Russian activists slam ‘gay milk propaganda’ [ABC News Australia]
Bad news out of Russia: St. Petersburg passed a law banning “homosexual propaganda” today. What counts as propaganda is broad and ill-defined, so Russian Slap readers may officially reading be illegal material right now! So, I guess you might want to close your windows or something, right?
The city of Saint Petersburg in Russia has introduced a bill that would impose a $100 fine for anyone found promoting “homosexual propaganda.” The fine is increased up to $1,600 for organisations.
The bill defines homosexual propaganda as a “public act promoting homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgenderism to minors.”
“Public act,” however, is not defined—making the bill dangerously broad. The intention is certainly to put an end to things like Pride marches for equal rights, but may also potentially criminalize things like public hand-holding. Even with a narrowed definition, the bill almost certainly violates legal standards in the country, but the bill is also popular and has widespread support. Courts in Russia routinely side on imposing serious limits on the human rights and freedoms of gay people.
Arkhangelsk and Ryazan—two other Russian cities—already have similar laws on the books.
- Russia proposes ban on gay ‘propaganda’ [Digital Journal]
For the sixth consecutive year, Moscow has forbidden a peaceful gay rights demonstration from happening within the city, and for the sixth consecutive year, equal rights advocates have defied the ban—with violent consequences.
Sadly, this isn’t a surprise. Homophobia runs very deep in Russian culture, so the same story returns year after year. An otherwise peaceful demonstration is met by violent counter protesters from radical right-wing organisations, and the end result is that the peaceful demonstrators are arrested by the police.
Banning peaceful protests is never a good idea, so I’m grateful for the bravery and dedication these men and women show year after year.
It may seem like Moscow has a long way to go, but attitude only change with visibility. When I was a teen growing up in Edmonton in the 90s, I remember a news story about the city’s first gay Pride march. A small handful of protesters stood in front of city hall with handmade signs. About one in three had their heads covered by paper bags with holes cut out for eyes. They were afraid of being identified, afraid of losing their jobs or being outed to their families. This was in Canada, only about 15 years ago. Things have changed a lot since then, and it’s happening all over the world—just at different paces.
I’m looking forward to the year, guaranteed to come, when I’ll post about the first march in Moscow without arrests or violence.
- Dozens detained in failed Russian gay pride march [Montréal Gazette]
The city of Moscow has been fined €29,510 by the European Court of Human Rights for banning equal rights demonstrations in the city.
For several consecutive years, former mayor Yuri Luzhkov had banned gay Pride marches, calling them “satanic.” (I must’ve missed the year that the parade featured a live goat sacrifice.) When organizers ignored the bans, police did nothing to protect marchers from violent protestors, often hauling off the marchers in handcuffs instead.
Like many other parts of the world, the Council of Europe guarantees the rights of citizens to gather for peaceful protests. In light of this, the court ruled that Moscow couldn’t simply ban gay Pride marches simply because they don’t like gays.
The decision, incidentally, came on the same day that Yuri Luzhkov was replaced as mayor. He was fired by President Dmitry Medvedev in September after 18 years as mayor.
Comeuppance! I always wanted to use that word.
Two lesbians that wed in Canada last October will not be seen as married in their homeland. A Russian court threw out their case this week, saying that same-sex foreign marriages simply won’t be recognized. “I will have to uphold the decision made by the registry office in May,” said judge Boris Gerbekov, “foreign marriages accepted in Russia must involve a couple of opposite sex.”
This is the same couple that had tried to get a marriage license last May, but were rejected in early October. That prompted them to get a marriage license here in Canada, hoping it would be recognized. Now that their latest attempt has been turfed, they’ll appeal to the European Court of Human Rights where a decision could take up to five years.
Rights have to be fought with persistence. Best of luck, you two! It’ll pay off someday.
- Court rejects Russian lesbians’ Canada marriage [Reuters Canada]
A Russian court has blocked what would have been the country’s first same-sex marriage. Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko were told that they couldn’t get married like other couples because of their sex. Shipitko has now told the media that they will fight the decision:
We are a family already. We live together and share household chores. We also would like to have children; that is why we want legal recognition of our union.
Irina and Irina are now planning to come to Canada and wed. They’re hoping that a marriage license obtained elsewhere will carry the same legal rights back home.
Good on you, gals! And good luck!
- Russian court blocks same-sex wedding [CBC News]
A lesbian couple will apply for a marriage license in Moscow next week in what will certainly be Russia’s first denied same-sex marriage.
While Russia does not allow same-sex marriages in the country, there is no law explicitly forbidding the recognition of foreign same-sex marriages. For this reason, the lesbian couple will make their lifelong commitment in either Canada or Norway before requesting to have it recognised in their home country.
The plan is unlikely to succeed. Homophobia in Russia is astonishingly widespread. Just this week, Moscow banned a gay rights parade that was planned during the Eurovision Song Contest. A spokesperson for the mayor said that “Moscow has never had gay parades and it never will,” adding “Not only do [gay rights parades] destroy morals within our society, but they consciously provoke disorder which threatens the lives of Muscovites and visitors.”
Funny the city should mention threats to life. Moscow did, indeed, have a gay rights march—their first, though unsanctioned—in 2006. The peaceful march, in which participants planned to walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a symbolic wreath, was met with extreme, bloody violence from anti-gay protesters. While police were present, they did little to prevent or diminish the violence against the marchers, instead siding with the anti-gay crowd.
Considering this extreme atmosphere, this lesbian couple is very brave indeed—far braver than I. Equal rights are only inevitable when courageous people take the first steps, despite threats and hostility. I wish them the very best!
Troubled economic times have a lot of people predicting doom and gloom, but one of Russia’s most influential scholars has employed an unusual methodology for some rather specific future events.
In a lecture to an invited selection of international media representatives, Igor Panarin, Dean of a diplomat school for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, predicted that the United States will be fractured into six rump states (with Alaska falling to Russian rule) by 2010. Panarin’s prediction and timeline are based on what he said was a natural progression from observed “social and cultural phenomena.” Specifically: School shootings, a growing prison population, and the number of gay men.
What terrible news, but it all falls into place! My gay friends across the border are a clear sign that Barack Obama will soon declare martial law, thrusting the nation into chaos before toppling its own government and entering an era of terrifying anarchy. A semblance of order will occur only after rogue leaders self-assemble into six autonomous states, of which only conservative Alaska will escape by embracing Russian rule.
Oh, horrible fate! And all within the next nine months. How ever shall my stateside friends manage? Courage, friends. Courage!
Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov has vowed to continue bans on gay rights marches, calling homosexuality “satanic,” and blaming the gay rights movement for the spread of AIDS:
We have banned, and will ban, the propaganda of sexual minorities’ opinions because they can be one of the factors in the spread of HIV infection.
What a unique and simple strategy to help stop a worldwide AIDS epidemic: Ban opinions!
Sadly, all attempts at gay rights rallies in Moscow have been met with violence, with no police protection afforded for the marchers. While Canada’s rallies are, thankfully, far more peaceful, Yuri’s sentiment is still very close to home. Plans for a small parade in Abbotsford, British Columbia, was met with wild criticism and had to be changed to something smaller.
The Russian Health Ministry announced this week that it has ended its ban on gay blood donors.
This news came as somewhat of a surprise, as homophobia remains a large problem in Russia. Moscow’s first gay rights parade, for example, was met with violent protesters, condemned by the mayor, and banned by the courts. Authorities did nothing to stop violence against the marchers, many of whom where shoved, punched and kicked. This was in 2006.
Still, Russia has recognized what Canada fails to acknowledge: That allowing gay donors does not increase the risk of contaminants in the blood supply. Just last year, the American Red Cross called gay blood donor bans “medically and scientifically unwarranted,” and statistics support them.
In Canada, the fastest growing HIV demographic is young, heterosexual women, which makes up 25% of all HIV infections in the country. More worrying, however, are the statistics from the aboriginal community. In 2005, 22.4% of Canada’s HIV infections were among aboriginals, of which 53% were injection drug users, and 38.9% were women. More locally, a Manitoba study released in March showed that only 18% of HIV transmissions in the province were between gay men, with heterosexual intercourse transmissions climbing to a staggering 32%. The rest of the infections were caused by a mixture of injection drug users, birth transmission, travel, and other causes.
To suggest that young women and aboriginals should be banned from donating, though, would be irresponsible. Recent advances in HIV screening can identify—in only 60 seconds—if a person is infected with HIV with 99.96% accuracy. This is an important change, as when the blood ban was first enacted in Canada there was no effective screening at all.
Still, despite medical evidence and a nine-year low in Canadian Blood Service’s reserves, Health Canada is actually regressing. In January, Health Canada officially banned gays from donating organs, even to dying patients, despite a dangerous and time-sensitive shortage. Many doctors have refused to comply.
This puts Canada in a very strange situation. If medicine and statistics aren’t supporting the gay blood ban, then who is?
One particularly unsurprising group of supporters is lobbyists. Having Health Canada and Canadian Blood Services implement unfair policies toward gays gives an air of legitimacy to homophobia, and the anti-gay lobby jumps on the opportunity. Jim Enos of Hamilton’s Family Action Council has already suggested that since gay blood donors are permanently deferred, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board should cut its anti-homophobia and bullying policies protecting gay students.
Clearly something is awry, and it’s about time that Canada followed Russia’s lead in putting real medical and statistical data first. Canada is desperate for blood donors and classifying blood based on risky practices instead of risky people would increase both the safety and quantity of blood.
Christian and Muslim groups in Russia are demanding the shutdown of 2X2, a cartoon television network, because it airs programs that “promote homosexuality.”
The groups have formed a lobby coalition called the Consultive Council of the Heads of the Protestant Churches in Russia. They’ve singled out South Park as a particularly offensive program and called for the government to strip the television station of its license:
Through the use of cartoons this channel is pumping, day and night, an ideology into the consiousness of minors of perversion and other vices.
Yekaterina Doglosheveva, a spokesperson for 2X2, said their station’s target audience is 16-30 year old men—not children—and that Russia is a secular state. He asked where the line would be drawn:
The atheists could have just as well written a letter to demand that all religious channels and programs be closed. We work respecting the constitution, we do not violate the law.
A good stance—although, the council may have a point. I’ve watched The Simpsons for years and turned out completely gay!
The Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, a religious group in Russia, has completed a ceremonial procession along the Moscow River to purify the waters after a gay cruise ship sailed down it the previous day.
Event organiser Yuri Ageshchev said the religious ceremony was necessary to protect a sared site:
[We aim] to clean the Moscow River of the filth that filled the river after the trip of a big company of homosexuals that took place on the same route and on the same motor ship.
[Gays] boldly demonstrate their non-traditional orientation, persuading everyone that it is normal. We believe that it is a vice and want to remove all this from this site, which is sacred to Russians.
Hmm… I wonder if this has any connection to the Rasputin-esque guy that has been sprinkling holy water over my favourite paths lately.
Even moose and squirrel must be shaking their heads at this news. Moscow’s first gay pride parade, which was to peacefully conclude by placing flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was met by hordes of violent protesters who started punching and kicking the participants. What’s even sadder, the authorities did little to stop the violence, instead condemning the parade. The mayor and courts even banned the march, citing, well… nothing, really.
Canadian gay rights activist, John Fisher, was there.
What I saw was a complete failure of police protection that was directly linked to the mayor’s banning of the march. We can only hope that what we saw was representative of only a small segment of society.
Of course, there’s not much joking I can do with this shameful material, so I’ll conclude by congratulating the pride marchers for taking a stand against such nonsense, and I wish them all the best next year! Don’t give up!