Disclaimer: This article explicitly advocates on behalf of LGBT people and their families. If this were Russia, it would be forbidden for children to view it, and a publication like ThinkProgress could be criminally liable for making it accessible to them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin disregards criticisms of the country’s new law banning “gay propaganda,” suggesting that it “does not in any way infringe on the rights of sexual minorities.” Instead, he says, “This is about protecting children.” Unfortunately for Putin, the two are not mutually exclusive.
The question remains: what do children need to be protected from? As Deputy General Director of Russian’s government-owned media, Dmitri Kisilev’s position on the gay community is informative. According to a translated video of comments he made on Russia’s top news show Vesti, gay people’s organs are not even fit for donation because they “are unsuitable for a continuation of life”:
KISILEV: I believe that to fine gays for propaganda of homosexualism to minors is not enough. Donation of blood and sperm should be forbidden for them. And their hearts, in case of accident, should be buried of burned because they are unsuitable for a continuation of life.
A Voice of Russia article published Friday adds to the anti-gay propaganda, with a significant citation dedicated to Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, an established hate group. Fischer warned that “homosexual behavior is just as risky as drug abuse” and “damages the body and soul.” Thus, it’s important to protect young people from it — otherwise, they’ll contract HIV. Fischer has previously compared being gay to being a bank robber and applauded the kidnapping of children from their same-sex parents.
This is the incendiary rhetoric and ill-informed stereotyping that is informing Russia’s anti-gay policies. The law essentially bans any display that promotes or acceptingly acknowledges the existence of homosexuality; imposing a sort of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy upon the entire country. When Putin or other officials claim they want to “protect children,” they mean that they want to protect children from being gay. The law won’t actually prevent anyone from being gay, because that’s not how sexual orientation works, but it’s functionally censorship of all homosexuality, cementing stigma into law.