The country’s lower chamber of parliament today passed a bill that would prohibit gay couples who are legally married in their own country from adopting any children from Russia. The measure passed without a single dissenting vote.
In recent weeks, Russian politicians at all levels of government have advanced an appalling battery of anti-gay legislation. In the Duma, lawmakers unanimously passed a bill banning the teaching of kids about the mere existence of gay people, and in St. Petersberg, city officials imposed stiff fines for any kind of gay pride event or even speaking in defense of gay rights in the city of St. Petersburg. The Russian LGBT community is also still reeling from a horrific attack last month on a young gay man who was tortured, raped, and killed when a group of people he considered to be his friends learned he was gay.
The Atlantic’s Olga Khazn took a look at Russia’s history of homophobia, which predates the country itself, and noted that “in the Soviet Union, homosexuality was a crime punishable by prison and hard labor, and Stalinist anti-gay policies persisted throughout the 60s and 70s.”
But little has changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. “Measures like the propaganda ban show that many Russians still haven’t shed that view, even decades after the fall of the regime that kept homophobia in place,” writes Khazan. “Only 16 percent of Russians today say homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with 42 percent in nearby (and also formerly communist) Poland.”
The international community and human rights organizations have been swift to condemn Russia at nearly every turn, but it has done little to dissuade lawmakers from advancing their intolerance. Activists have also begun to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, both of which awarded Russia the honor of hosting the 2014 winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup respectively.