One would think, in today’s day and age, that personal rights and freedom were granted without question, and that people, no matter their gender or nationality, would be able to live their lives comfortably and by their own means. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case in Russia. Recent anti-gay laws have caused controversy ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and people from all over the world are protesting in favour of Russian freedom.
Russia’s newly finalised law, in action since last Summer, was approved by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s fourth president, and predominantly bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors. Some may say that this law helps to protect children against conflicting means of living life, but isn’t it more openly forcing youths into a lifestyle they may not want? Many citizens have taken offence to these new laws, and their introduction has led to riots not only in Russia, but protests were seen in London, Jerusalem and around the world, all in order to knock some sense into the Russian president. The Sochi Olympics was said to be a $50 billion showpiece event, and was overshadowed by the country’s need to ban ‘gay propaganda’ instead of allowing individuals to live freely, and fears were arisen that their law may cause trouble at the event.
Sochi is home to a few gay clubs, but according to members of the homosexual community, the scene is on the decline due to the newly imposed law, which means people are being punished by living their lives how they have always been allowed to. Russia is home to people just like you and me, except their government is telling them how they can and cannot live and who they can and cannot love. Surely, who you want to love should strictly be your own business? Since the law passed, gay people are being viewed as a threat to society, and most horrifically, to the church. These ideas have led to homophobic attacks in Russia going unpunished. Again, I ask, how is this fair? Surely these attackers are much more threatening to society and to the church than those living by their own means.
Channel 4’s Documentary ‘Hunted’ explores the harsh truth behind the treatment of Gays in Russia, stating that Gay people are being treated like animals, and are quite often hunted down and brutalised ‘for fun’ by anti-gay activists. If this is not a step in the wrong direction, I don’t know what is. People honest and open enough to admit their sexual preference in a culture such as Russia should surely be able to live without being afraid of attack if they leave their houses. Recently, three Russian men have been convicted of homophobic murder after the victim was stabbed in the neck, face and chest. The men were sentenced to between nine and twelve years in prison, but is this enough to deter further homophobic crimes in future?
Contrary to popular belief, and to what recent reports would have people believe, homosexuality in Russia is not actually illegal, and this is what makes their ‘gay propaganda’ laws even more abysmal. People who were allowed to live freely should not now be punished. Countries such as India and Africa, along with 70 other worldwide countries, have introduced anti-gay laws, for example, India have elongated jail sentences for people that are openly gay, but until now, Russia has never prejudiced gays to quite this extent, so why the sudden change?
This is a sore subject for many, and is not a new topic, but this is where we should draw the line. Even in Britain, homosexuals are still facing homophobic crimes; anti-gay attitudes tend to spread worldwide. One in six gay, lesbian or bisexual people have been victim of hate crimes in the UK over recent years, and although less dramatic, these crimes are unacceptable and should not be happening in a society as open-minded as the UK.