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Outrage Over Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

Outrage rises over Russia’s draconian anti-gay laws, and talk of an Olympic boycott. We look at the culture clash and potential consequences.

Activists holding placards depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, participate at a protest against Russia's new law on gays, in central London, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. (AP)

Activists holding placards depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, participate at a protest against Russia’s new law on gays, in central London, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. (AP)

New law in Russia this summer can get a person in big trouble for talking about homosexuality.  Say you’re gay, or wear a rainbow flag, or write something on Facebook, or describe a “non-traditonal” relationship anywhere that someone under 18 might overhear, and Russian law can brand that gay “propaganda” and bring down the hammer.

It sounds odd to American ears when this country is going the other way on gay issues.  It’s already an issue for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

This hour, On Point:  Russia goes tough on the gay front, just as the world’s eyes turn to Russia and the games.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Julia Ioffe, senior editor at The New Republic. (@juliaioffe)

Masha Gessen, journalist and author of “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.” (@mashagessen)

Tim Layden, senior writer for Sports Illustrated. (@sitimlayden)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Republic: Eight Horrific and Uplifting Stories About Being Gay in the New Russia — “On January 25, Kremlin-friendly journalist Anton Krasovsky invited a bunch of drag queens on his show on KontrTV, a Kremlin-owned channel. It was his personal protest against a proposed law in the Russian parliament, the Duma, which would ban distributing ‘gay propaganda’ to minors. The law’s broad definition of ‘propaganda’ would prohibit publicly discussing gay relationships, comparing them to heterosexual ones, or calling them ‘normal.’ That is, it would effectively criminalize the process of coming out—so often the driving force for wider social acceptance of gays.”

The Guardian: As a gay parent I must flee Russia or lose my children — “In June, the ‘homosexual propaganda’ bill became federal law. The Duma passed a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples and by single people living in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. The head of the parliamentary committee on the family pledged to create a mechanism for removing children from same-sex families.”

Associated Press: Gay-rights gesture may violate rules — “The Swedish high jumper who painted her fingernails in rainbow colors to support gay rights has been told she could be in violation of the code of conduct at the world championships, a Swedish track and field official said Saturday.”

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