Russia has put itself between a rock and a hard place(no innuendo intended) over recent developments from anti-gay laws. Facing growing international pressure to repeal the recently adopted and recently dubbed “anti-gay laws” and massive criticism over what some interpret as laws that oppress the homosexual committee, some question whether Russia faces the same scrutiny that other slightly newer democracies. It’s first helpful to establish what the laws say and what they will mean.
The first part of the law prohibits alternative sexuality in schools and the counterpart law prohibits it in public. Indeed you have read that correctly – it prohibits its existence. This is not only deeply homophobic and autocratic, but I think you will agree that this contravenes the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in many places, it contravenes Article 1 which stipulates that “Everyone is born equal”. By outlawing the existence of homosexuality and the LGBT community, the Russian Government are seeking to create inequality by declaring people who are gay “criminals”. This law is inherently wrong and should be removed. Not only this, but it continues to break Article 2 – “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Russia clearly disregards the protection of the rights of the LGBT in the UHDR. I could continue to discuss how Russia have broken Articles, 7, 12, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23 and 26. (If you wish to read a simplified version of the UHDR – there’s great one here.)
I implore the reader to consider the practicality of this law. How can Russia enforce a complete moratorium on the existence of LGBT individuals? It’s a practical impossibility to halt LGBT organisations existing, and all LGBT activity. In continuation, by disenfranchising the LGBT population of Russia, the government or marginalising a massive section of the population. Persecution is never a successful option for a government which aims to suppress a section of society, it only makes the group which they wish to suppress stronger. By suppressing a large population of the LGBT in Russia – it will hurt the economy. LGBT people approximately make up from 8 to 10% of the population, by suppressing this group you automatically lose up to 10% of potential and current workforce. This is unaffordable for a modern economy, and the ideal economy Russia wishes to develop. Moreover, this was an impractical move as employers will not wish to lose their best employees, and it will simply create an underground LGBT community, which in my opinion, is an exceptionally risky consequence. Pushing the community underground will mix the LGBT community with other dangerous groups. By not educating Russians on homosexual safe sex, this will risk spreading STDs. Make no mistake, a rise in STDs will add costs to the straight community also. This means more healthcare is needed, more people may not even seek treatment due to the stigma of being LGBT and the possibility for someone with a STD from the gay community to pass it to the straight community is massive.
Another consequence which has been ill-advisedly created by this law is Russia’s tourism industry and foreign business becoming less popular. International visitors and tourists who are LGBT are not protected from this law, making it exceptionally unattractive to visit Russia, not only if you are LGBT. This will hurt economically, socially and politically. Growth relies on diversity. Diversity here is virtually non-existent.
With major international events which are going to propel Russia into the forefront of the world stage – like the Winter Olympics of 2014 and the World Cup of 2018, Russian government officials have already indicated that gay spectators and athletes would be breaking the law by promoting homosexuality by their activity. Surely Russia must repeal a law that would severely damage it’s already faltering reputation on the world stage.
In conclusion, this is a dangerous law, with some very serious consequences. Russia already has a questionable human rights position over imprisoning musicians like Pussy Riot, allegedly shipping weapons to Syria and supporting a brutal and murderous Assad Regime. Russia seriously needs to evaluate its policies and decided that despite the LGBT community not being in favour with the government, it certainly needs them, and the government should be careful. If young people continue to grow up without any idea or concept of homosexuality then breeding ignorance will continue to breed intolerance, and that will not help a country aspiring to become a fully fledged member of the newly tolerant international community. To integrate, Russia must have courage to admit mistakes. To integrate, it must tolerate.