A new law passed in Russia, introducing fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($156) for citizens who publicize information aimed at minors "directed at forming nontraditional sexual setup" or which may cause a "distorted understanding" that gay and heterosexual relations are "socially equivalent.
Foreigners and travelers are not going scot free either. They will not only be fined but face administrative arrest up to 15 days and eventual deportation, the law says. The fines go up to as much as 200,000 rubles ($6,250) for officials if such "propaganda" is disseminated through the media or Internet.
We wonder how this will affect their tourism, and worse yet, the upcoming 2014 Winter Games?
Boris O. Dittrich, Advocacy Director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, blasted the law in a letter to the International Olympics Committee saying,"Human Rights Watch’s long-standing position is that there cannot be a successful Olympics where there is discrimination or human rights abuses ... Foreigners -- possibly including athletes -- who violate the law, including possibly by speaking about their sexual orientation in public, run the risk of being fined, arrested for up to 15 days, and deported from Russia."
However, the Olympics committee has shown their support for the GBT community. IOC officials released a statement noting: "The IOC would like to reiterate our long commitment to non-discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games, the IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games."
But what guarantee can they take for the safety and security of the LGBT players? Who defines what actually constitutes being pro gay?
Unfortunately there can be no concrete definition. One could be charged with as much as holding a hand of a same sex person, wearing a multicolored shirt or even displaying a rainbow flag alongside a maple leaf!
One wonders why is there so much hate and intolerance? The bill is openly homophobic, but then is most of Russia.
Voice of Russia explains the intolerance by pointing out that any display of affection between same-sex couples could cause a “distorted understanding” that gay relations and heterosexual relations are socially equivalent, and risk spreading Western liberalism.
Aha! Is this the key then one might say! Not entirely.
There is a history behind the intolerance. Homosexuality was illegal even in Soviet Union. It only became legitimate in 1993, but since a large number of the people are decisively conservative, things never really got better.
A main cause of the state of mind is the fact that majority of Russia consists of far-flung towns, villages and provincial centers – where the quality of life is lower, educational opportunities are far less prevalent, and the social demographics are pretty conservative.
Under the circumstances, it seems they will remain so!
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters