On a much darker note than the goofball absurdity of the recent “Super Bowl ring” debacle between Russian President Vladimir Putin and New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, last Wednesday Putin publicly made some hollow statements in an attempt to placate the international backlash concerning the recent passing of Russia’s anti-LGBT law in June 2013 and the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi (7-23 February). This law, which violates basic understandings of human rights and free speech, caused numerous protests in major metropolitan cities across the globe like Toronto, Barcelona and Paris. It also ignited the concerns of the International Olympic Committee who had called attention to the fact that LGBT Olympians or fans could make gestures, statements or actions that might be considered illegal under the intentionally vague and all encompassing rubric of the anti-LGBT law in question.
On Sept. 4th, Russia’s First Channel television network hosted Putin, where he claimed that, “We can be absolutely sure that Russia will support the principles of Olympism, which don’t allow discrimination of people on any basis, either ethnicity or gender or … sexual orientation.”
This statement comes in light of the fact that the recent anti-LGBT legislature will fine and discriminate against anyone that can be misconstrued as spreading “propaganda” about “non-traditional sexual relations” and that the Putin administration recently signed a law which banned rallies and demonstrations in Sochi for two and a half months during the Olympic games. In the same breath, Putin made the ludicrous statement that gay and lesbian individuals were not shown prejudice in Russia. Putin stated, “I assure you that I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields.” He continued, “We have absolutely normal relations and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here.” The willfully ambiguous language of the bill in question, Article 6.21, states that it will ban “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors” with fines ranging 4,000 to 5,000 rubles (120-159 USD) or detention for Russian and foreign citizens deemed guilty by authorities. There are still higher fines for those engaging in this “propaganda” on the Internet or the media and for public officials and organizations. Without providing a clear legal definition of the parameters of “Propaganda” or “non-traditional sexual relations” the bill will affect those who authorities deem to be “distributing information among minors that is 1) is aimed at creating nontraditional sexual attitudes, 2) makes nontraditional sexual relations attractive, 3) equates the social value of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations, or 4) creates an interest in nontraditional sexual relations.”
In an almost complete denial about the overtly hostile environment for LGBT individuals living in and visiting Russia, Putin also claimed that international media outlets were making the law into a much larger issue than it should be. He stated, “There is no need to turn a fly into an elephant. Nothing frightful and horrible is going on in our country.”