Two decades years after being gay was decriminalised in Russia, anti-gay legislation is making a fast comeback, with St Petersburg becoming the latest city to ban “homosexual propaganda”, and the trend set to go national.
Now a court in St Petersburg has – hilariously – summoned Madonna to appear on charges of having broken the law against promoting homosexuality. After she failed to attend a hearing on October 11 (surprise), the court sent a summons to her New York address. She has been ordered to show up on Thursday. What’s the betting she won’t?
The ‘Union of Russian Citizens’ says that it wants redress for the offence she gave at her concert in the city, when she called for tolerance. Nine anti-gay activists have filed a private lawsuit, seeking 333 million roubles (£6.7 million) from the star.
In another example of the growing homophobia in Russia, an organisation calling itself the ‘People’s Council’ has asked prosecutors to investigate children being harmed by a picture of purple cows grazing under a rainbow on the cartons of Jolly Milkman milk. They say; ‘A rainbow appeared on the cartons, a world-renowned symbol of the gay movement.’ And they’re angry.
Violent attacks against gay people are on the increase. This month, a gang of 20 masked raiders broke into Moscow’s 7FreeDays club, smashed furniture and beat up party-goers. The attack was so shocking that it prompted Victor Davidoff, writing in The Moscow Times, to compare gays to persecuted Jews. “Unfortunately, the attacks have become as much of a national trademark as St Basil’s Cathedral,” he said.
When we think of countries with backward human rights several Eastern bloc territories come to mind, but I had assumed Russia was becoming more sophisticated; after all, its wealthier residents are spreading out across Europe, buying homes in France, Italy and Greece, and have become synonymous with whores, drugs and organised crime. Now they’re adding Fascism to the agenda.
Oh, does that sound harsh? Funny, it’s the language the Russian legislators are using. On a more selfish note, it seems everywhere I’m planning to go on vacation hits trouble; I was next heading for Beirut but have cancelled the idea after spreading sectarian violence.