Despite protests across the globe in the wake of the new anti-gay law in Russia, the country appears to be embracing the law en masse. The law to stop “gay propaganda” bans “promoting homosexuality to minors” in Russia, which would mean fines for events that support LGBT rights or even public displays of affection by same-sex partners.
While protestors in the U.S. dumped Russian vodka on the ground last weekend in support of LGBT equality, a July study from Russia’s Independent Levada Center shows an overwhelming majority of Russians do not support non-heterosexual lifestyles.
Journalist Masha Gessen told CBC Radio's Day 6, however, that the law is a tactic by Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate power by marginalizing the “quintessential other.”
Gessen, who wrote a biography of Putin called The Man Without a Face, holds both Russian and U.S. citizenship. She claims Putin is waging a culture war.
"On the one side of this war is his shrinking constituency, which he views as Russian traditionalists in every sense,” she said. "So they're nationalists. They are socially very conservative. They identify as Russian Orthodox, and they buy the line that Russia is surrounded by enemies who are out to destroy it and who were also behind the protest movement last year."
Martin Andrews, a British national who is openly gay has been living in Russia for eight years, told RT that Russia is no different than parts of America which don’t support gay marriage.
“There is a thriving, excitable and wonderful gay community which is happy here,” Andrews said. “I think if you compare America, for example, you can’t look at San Francisco and Los Angeles and New York and then look in the middle part, Texas. That’s what Russia is, especially Moscow. You’ve got the old meets new.”
Texas, however, is not a country. There are many millions of Americans in the middle of the U.S. who do not support such “anti-propaganda” legislation.
Protestors calling for the boycott of Russian vodka and the games might be ignoring two very important things: Stolichnaya is not distilled in Russia and boycotting the Olympics hurts athletes more than it hurts Russia.