Homosexuality in Russia
A Social Injustice
Purpose of Project
The injustice at hand is nothing new. There may be a new group of people being oppressed, but the same majority is still the oppressor. By driving LGBTQ out of the community and the media, we are repeating history.
In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the black citizens of the community were looked at as a step lower in society. They were not taken seriously and were thought of as less than human because of the way they looked or where they came from. Russia is directly mirroring this oppression by disregarding the LGBTQ community and isolating it from the media.
Most straight people do not take the time or interest to "climb into someone's skin and walk around in it," as Atticus would say, meaning they don't even bother to understand homosexuality at all; they expect everyone to be exactly the same. Because of this misunderstanding, close-minded people tend to feel uncomfortable and uneasy around those with a different sexual orientation than them. Many people also believe homosexuality can be spread, like a disease, and that the media influences it. These people refuse to educate themselves and the public, and because the people being oppressed are at a much smaller number than the group of people doing the oppressing, they are rendered nearly powerless, another similarity to TKM.
Modern Day "Mockingbirds"
The social injustice in Russia is the way the LGBTQ community is shut out of the media. By creating a law deeming the positive propaganda of homosexuality illegal so as not to influence young children, the Russian government is oppressing this entire group of people. Thus, certain human beings are not being given the right to be who they are openly. This law implies that certain people's sexuality is deemed wrong and immoral and should not be inflicted on adolescents. It also dictates that certain people should hide who they are so as not to make others uncomfortable.
In Bryan Stevenson's Ted Talk, "We Need to Talk About an Injustice," he said that we have an identity, and by excluding a group of people, we are not embracing our identity. In order to set things right, we must take on every type of person and look at everyone as equals, because no person's life holds more value than another.
Furthermore, same-sex households are not protected by the same legal rights that opposite-sex households are provided with. Another demeaning way the Russian government oppresses gay people is by defining homosexuality as a disease. In fact, transsexualism, another example of a "sexual disorder", is thought of as a mental disease, and can prevent someone from being able to hold a driver's license.
Social Context: "The Disease"
The majority of people who are uneducated about the LGBT community tend to feel very uncomfortable about the topic and how it should be dealt with. Because of this, the Russian government passed a law making it illegal to talk about homosexuality when there are children present. The positive propaganda of homosexuality was banned. There are several reasons why this is the opposite of a good idea. For one, this not only deprives children and adults of a much-needed education on the topic, but it also leaves LGBTQ children completely in the dark. They will grow up not understanding why they feel a certain way, and as a result will feel like an outcast for not being like everybody else. Homosexuality is existent, and cannot simply be ignored.
The larger disease this injustice rooted from is homophobia, which is an issue known worldwide. Rejecting LGBTQ citizens from the media and the community is the easiest way to further this homophobia and isolate them. This current disease relates to TKM because, for some reason, history has repeated itself, as it tends to. People continue to fall for the phony idea that some humans' lives hold more meaning than others, no matter who they have to shut out of the public to withhold that idea. One thing that we, as individuals, can do, is accept and love everybody for who they are, and also be aware of history so that it doesn't have to repeat itself negatively.
The LGBTQ community is then looked upon as a step lower in society. Imagine an entire group of people being shut out from the public and the media. The Russian government is trying to hide a way of life from their people, but pretending that homosexuality doesn't exist is just another form of oppression.
Becoming Atticus Finch
In response to the many oppressive laws, many international organizations have rushed to assist and uphold human rights in Russia. Almost all of the groups that have protested these laws were taken to court for protesting the propaganda ban.
One of the strategies being used in Russia now is the vodka boycott. Straight and gay bars across the country are refusing to sell/drink Russian vodka in response to the controversial laws. This boycott has raised awareness and sparked a change in the opinions of many Russians already. However, a vodka boycott alone will not solve this problem.
Another strategy being discussed is the idea of drawing up blacklists so that members of the Duma who voted for these laws would be unable to travel to certain places. This targets the officials and may influence them to change the selfish laws.
One thing that we, as Americans, can do is join national organizations and make our government aware of the issue so that it can be dealt with in a diplomatic format.
Dittrich, Boris. "In Russia, Every Day Should Be National Coming Out Day | Human Rights Watch." In Russia, Every Day Should Be National Coming Out Day | Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
Heiss, Jasmine. "HAPPENING NOW: Russian Journalist Charged Under “Gay Propaganda” Law." Human Rights Now. Amnesty International, 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
Lang, Carolyn. "Russia Must Reject Absurd Bill That Targets Homosexuals." Amnesty International USA. Amnesty International, 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 03 Dec. 2014.
An LGBTQ rally in Russia with a picture of the Russian president Vladimir Putin wearing makeup, symbolizing equality.
Two men kissing at a Gay Pride rally.
Another picture of a little boy at an LGBTQ rally.