“There are a great many opinions in this world, and a good half of them are professed by people who have never been in trouble.”
I wonder what Chekov would have made of the international outrage caused by his country’s behaviour recently. The Russian government has created a sorry buzz in the media as it openly brews up an anti-gay storm. It’s as if they were deliberately trying to goad the Western world into either boycotting the Olympic Winter games in Sochi or tacitly condoning their behaviour by attending.
On the 11th June 2013, the Russian Duma voted in Federal Law No. 135-FZ. Behind this innocuous title is a law that puts a legal lid on any talk about homosexuality to under 18’s. It concerns the “Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development,” and makes it illegal to “spread information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual behaviour among children, suggesting this behaviour is attractive and making a false statement about the socially equal nature of traditional and non-traditional relationships“.
Strangely enough, whereas an impressive 137 hours of debate about the recent French bill for same-sex marriage resulted in 331 votes for and 225 against the bill, the Russian bid to hush-up homosexuality was voted in by a vote of 436… to zero. Only one brave (or eternally optimistic) person abstained, and probably rushed home to change the locks and adopt a family of pit bulls with titantium-tipped teeth. It’s enough to make you wonder if voters had been given the choice between a vote in favour of the proposal or a voucher for a free, unlimited stay in a Siberian salt mine.
Lots of things could be said about this, but here are a few of MM’s musings. Apart from the “minor” issue of being openly discriminatory, the terminology of this law needs to be more precise. For example, to accuse someone of encouraging “non-traditional sexual behaviour,” you first have to define what traditional means. It conjures up the unpleasant image of Igor doing a preliminary Cossack dance with a rose clenched between his teeth, switching off the light and honouring a blushing Olga wearing full local dress. (That sentence was deliberately ambiguous. Who is wearing the local dress? It could be Olga or Igor. Who cares, and who would know anyway? The light’s out.) I would therefore recommend either a public referendum on the subject, or calling in some international political colleagues with hands-on experience (I believe that France and Italy both have one) to help them with this difficult task.
The Duma also seem to have overlooked the fact that this law (no doubt unintentionally) states that homosexuals are not the social equals of citizens in “traditional” relationships. They should correct this, as I’m sure they don’t want small-minded citizens to see it as official permission to beat up their neighbour. I’m also flummoxed about why anyone would spend their time trying to “recruit” for the gay cause – what do they think gay people are, sales reps? If you want a law to protect the health and development of Russian children, ban vodka and fast food, not freedom of speech.
In for a penny, in for a pound, another law is in the Kremlin pipeline, giving Russian authorities the right to withdraw children from their parents if one of them is gay. Having gay parents is not good for children and could influence them to become gay when they grow up, they claim. That would be logical, except being brought up by straight parents doesn’t necessarily make you straight. I may be naïve, but I’d like to understand what the problem is if someone does grow up to be gay.
So some Russians are gay? Whoopee. Get over it, and move on. A gay person is no more dangerous to you or your children than any other person you pass on the street. Being gay is not contagious, a fad, a fashion, or a “phase” someone is going through. Nor is it a choice: who would choose to experience intimidation (or much worse) on a regular basis?
These moral crusaders are touchingly convinced that their own offspring will not become victims of the suffocating, intolerant world they are creating for them. So think about it. Set the example for future generations. Dare to think outside the box. I’m going to stop ranting now – I’m off to check that nobody is hovering around outside my house with a suspiciously pointy umbrella.