By Samuel Leighton-Dore

Next week Russian lawmakers will consider taking the nation’s anti-gay “traditionalism” to the next extreme, with a bill being slated for parliament which could see the banning of same-sex couples kissing or holding hands in public. 

Under the proposed law, those caught in gay PDAs would cop an on-the-spot fine or face up to two weeks imprisonment.

A little fucked, right? “So what is supposed to happen?” Daniil Turovsky, a journalist for the Russian-language news site Meduza, asked Communist Party member and bill sponsor Ivan Nikitchuk. “People are walking down the street, holding hands or kissing. The police walk up and detain them?”

“Naturally,” Nikitchuk replied. “That is exactly what is supposed to happen.”

“This is Russia.” He continued. “We have a country where tradition has always been respected, where people have had and continue to have a conscience, an understanding of shame. And all these kissing bearded men do not evoke anything besides vomit.”

Nitkitchuk then turned on his interviewer, asking, “Are you a normal, decent person? Do you start pitching a tent in your pants every time you see another man? So you can shove it into the guy’s backside? That kind of thing is okay by you?”

Admittedly, the subject is a little close to my heart. Earlier this year I was contacted by several members of an underground LGBTQI group in Moscow. They were requesting a copy of my children’s book, I Think I’m A Poof, which was classed as illegal propaganda under the country’s Gay Propaganda Law of 2013 – a law which seeks to remove the “corrupt influence” of nontraditional sexuality on Russian youth.

As the group’s leader Tatiana explained over email, “It’s important that the young people we mentor feel a sense of support and camaraderie from the international community.”

“I’m sure you’ve heard of the current situation for LGBTQI people in Russia,” she wrote. “We live in fear. What we’re doing is completely illegal. We are constantly terrified that the police will come for us – that they’ll beat and arrest us.”

If the proposed bill – to be discussed in parliament next Friday – is passed, it will only see to the further abuse of those like Tatiana and the members of her support group; those who are already at risk of insurmountable violence and discrimination.


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