Monday, January 13, 2014
State Dept. warns LGBT tourists that Russian law is real; some "deniers" surface; more on Eagle move, other post-Holiday parties
The State Department has been warning American LGBT tourists that Russia’s law outlining “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. The warning would apply to the Olympics in February in Sochi and afterward. The link is here. State warns that the Russian laws are vague by American standards as to what constitutes "propaganda". Possibly an internationally available website or blog would. Possibly they would be blocked in Russia, but Facebook and Twitter postings would not. When a traveler is on a foreign country's soil, they are at risk to whatever the legal system in that country wants to do, even for very unjust political reasons. (Look at Uganda by comparison.)
Still, so far, the main effect of the Duma’s action last June seems to be escalating violence, and not a rash of arrests or imprisonment.
In fact, some groups like “Reality Real Women of Canada” claim, as in a piece by C. Gwendolyn Gandolt, claim that “Russian family law is not anti-gay” (link here) and remind readers that Russia ended its sodomy law in 1993 (when many US states still had them) and do not pursue gays in their homes. The article and comments definitely suggest that the issue is strongly related to the low Russian birth rate. This idea is confirmed by many western sources, such as CBS News here.
A subset of the western right wing has been making pro-natal (“natural family”) arguments and claiming that individualistic culture, with the degree of personal responsibility for one’s own children involved, is actually giving many people a disincentive to have children and “share the risks”. I’ve reported on these arguments in my blogs. I would wonder if the reporting on these “old arguments” (or “right baby arguments”) might have caught the attention of Russian politicians who believe that they can use the ideas for scapegoating, to hide other problems. Of they might try to see the idea that procreation and raising a family is an existential moral responsibility for everyone, although such a view itself leads to some contradictions with other moral notions (as when dealing with infidelity). This combines with a perception that “marginal” young men will decide not to have children once they learn that gay life is possible, or that lesbians will not allow men to have needed children by them. The law seems crude and satirical; it is so “obvious” that it is hard to believe that it is real.
Nevertheless, I would personally have to take it very seriously if I wanted to travel to Russia, maybe to see the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or attend concerts. Since I blog, authorities could my presence as a threat to their own reproductive potential, just out of very literalist reasoning.
Changing the subject: I did try the “Bearzerk” party at the Cobalt DC Saturday night, a warm evening for January. I’m underwhelmed by parties attracting specific cultural segments. By midnight, the crowd had built up and become more typical.
The latest credible story on the DC Eagle move appears in the City Paper, Jan. 10,, here.