August 30, 2022

Homophobia Codified


Homophobia Codified
Waving proudly. Wikimedia Commons, Ludovic Bertron

Russia's newly-imposed restrictions on free expression continue to demonstrate that draconian measures know no bounds.

The State Duma, in an effort spearheaded by Putin's United Russia party, is poised to enact laws completely banning "gay propaganda" from public distribution. Since 2013, media with homosexual tones has been marked as "18+," but the new measure would prevent any product of this type from even reaching the market.

The instigating incident is the publication of the book Summer in a Pioneer Necktie, by Elena Malisova and Katerina Silvanova. The story concerns two teenage boys falling in love at a Soviet summer camp. The work hit shelves this summer, where it was marked "18+" under Russia's child-safety media rating laws, implying that the content was intended for mature audiences. It has so far sold over 200,000 copies.

However, several officials have nonetheless expressed outrage at the book and its values. United Russia politician Vitaly Milonov reportedly went into a bookstore and threw LGBTQ+ books onto the floor, and author Zakhar Prilepin threatened to burn down the publisher's offices. Talk show host and Oscar-laureate director Nikita Mikhalkov lamented, "How can we wage war against fascism in the center of Europe and at the same time cultivate the values ​​of this very Europe, against which we are trying to fight, with our own hands?"

As such, the new law purportedly seeks both to protect youth from non-traditional values and fight against insidious Western cultural influences. So far, two draft bills have been written, and United Russia is believed to now be preparing a final version that could go into effect this fall.

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