Seeing Red

Russia’s LGBT Laws Cause International Uproar

By Brandon Siedlaczek

Brandon Siedlaczek

Over the course of the past few months, Russia has taken center stage in news outlets worldwide, in response to the passing of anti-gay laws less than a year before the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The bill, signed by President Putin, prohibits propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors. Since the signing of the bill into law, violence against LGBT individuals and groups in Russia has amplified, and the 2014 Winter Olympic games have become surrounded by controversy.

Since the passing of the bill into law last June, there has been an upsurge of homophobia in Russia. Bans have been placed on gay rights parades, protests, and demonstrations, and certain entities within Russia could be fined if it is deemed that they are promoting LGBT propaganda.

Foreigners within Russia who are classified to promote the so-called “nontraditional sexual relations” could have to face imprisonment and deportation from Russia. These laws have become extremely problematic and have restricted the rights of LGBT individuals in Russia.

Violent attacks against LGBT individuals and organizations have increased since the passing of the anti-gay law. In November 2013, a gay club in Moscow was attacked with harmful gas that was sprayed inside the club while constituents were inside. Fortunately, the gas could be filtered out of the club.

This attack was only one of a series of attacks where the club and its patrons had been targets. From the conflict that has arisen from the passing of the anti-gay laws, some influential figures have decided to seize the opportunity to promote the rights of LGBT individuals.

Emma Green-Tregaro, for example, a Swedish high jumper, created controversy in the fall of last year when she painted her nails rainbow in connection to the rainbow flag and to supporting the rights of LGBT individuals. She had been asked to remove the polish since making any sort of commercial or political statement during competition went directly against the code of conduct for athletes, even during qualifying rounds of competition.

Green-Tregaro’s action provoked controversy and discussion around the implications of the anti-gay laws for Olympic athletes competing in Russia.

It’s important  that we be aware of these issues so we can think more critically about how certain issues that occur globally can be addressed locally. So in connection to and in support of Emma Green-Tregaro, K’s Amnesty International group held a tabling event last week that allowed students to discuss the human rights issues occurring in Russia while painting their nails rainbow in support of LGBT rights.

These events are important for spreading awareness on human rights issues and developing a critical lens to view the policies that shape their society. The event, furthermore, sought to increase support for LGBT individuals everywhere. Amnesty International meets every Wednesday at 9:00 pm in Bissell Theater and is open to all K students and community members.

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