Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

February 12, 2014

House of Burgess: Mind the company you keep

Putin opposes LGBT rights, too.

You couldn’t pay me enough to be a LGBT person in Russia right now. Things weren’t great before, but they got a whole lot worse when a series of anti-gay laws passed last year.

“The law passed 436-0 … which bans the spreading of ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’ among minors,” reported The Guardian’s Mirian Elder on June 11, 2013. “The law in effect makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as the distribution of material on gay rights. … International rights groups have called the current situation in Russia the worst human rights climate in the post-Soviet era.”

Since then it has basically been open season on LGBT Russians.

“Moscow’s top court has upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital for the next 100 years,” reported the BBC on Aug. 17, 2013.

Protesters have been arrested and beaten by police.

“Russian police have arrested four gay rights activists protesting in St. Petersburg,” reported CBS News and The Associated Press on Friday. “Four gay activists unfurled a banner quoting the Olympic Charter’s ban on any form of discrimination. The protesters, who gathered on St. Petersburg’s Vasilyevsky Island, were quickly rounded up by police.”

Rampant, often videotaped, attacks on LGBT Russians by neo-Nazi groups, including “Occupy Pedophilia,” have become the norm.

“‘Occupy Pedophilia’ is an explicitly homophobic movement that entraps [adult] men seeking a same-sex encounter [with other adult men] and then berates them with homophobic slurs and physically assaults them while recording the proceedings on video,” reads a Human Rights Watch press release Feb. 3. “The group posts the videos on various social networking websites to further humiliate the victims.”

Russia in particular is on everyone’s minds as of late because of the XXII Winter Olympics, which began Friday in Sochi, a formerly sleepy resort town now host to the most expensive Games ever.

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