Russia LGBT
An LGBT protest in Russia [Reuters]. Reuters
  • All gay people are paedophiles regardless of age, even 13 years old. They present a threat to all children.
  • HIV/AIDS is spread by the LGBT population.
  • Gays are responsible for the depopulation of Russia and low birth rates, not the wide spread social problems such as alcoholism/drugs/poverty/unemployment.
  • One can become gay by observing gay behavior.

These are the four key tenets of the homophobic creed being propagated across Russia by Vladimir Putin and his cronies. To the rest of the world, or at least the vast majority, these precepts are ludicrous, even scandalous. But in Russia, as demonstrated by recent opinion polls, millions of people believe they are true, so pervasive and insidious is the influence of Putin's propaganda machine.

The arrests and violent suppression witnessed during the peaceful LGBT march in St. Petersburg during 'Coming Out Day' served as yet another testimony to Putin's regime's efforts to demonise gay people and deflect attention from the real issues in the Russian society. More than 60 people were arrested as "the homophobes broke up the action with the help of the police," to quote Natalia Tsymbalova, one of the organisers of the gay rights demonstration.

Religion is used as the main instrument to condemn and demonise LGBT people. Actually, the Russian Orthodox church has become pretty much inseparable from the Russian state in violating its own Constitution. Church officials recently issued a statement that surrogacy children are evil and should not be baptised. Needless to say Russia has stopped all foreign adoptions to countries that recognise same-sex marriages. Now their lawmakers are preparing to take children away from Russian same-sex couples or parents who were involved in, or practised, same-sex relations.

Meanwhile Russia's state-run orphanages remind one of Nazi-style concentration camps, with the severely malnutritioned and neglected children they house. Yet Russian legislators insist that the orphanage is much better for a child than a loving same-sex family. Oddly enough, the same lawmakers do not hesitate to send their own children and grandchildren to live and study in the Western countries that fully support LGBT rights.

Sadly, at the moment the only choice for LGBT people in Russia is to emigrate, especially if they have children. Spectrum Human Rights provides legal, psychological, logistics assistance and consultations for all refugees and asylum seekers from Russia and former USSR. This year we will see at least 80% increase in the number of asylum seekers coming to the USA from Russia and neighboring countries. And unless Russia brings its attitude towards same-sex couples into the 21st century, the number of migrants is going to increase even further in 2014.

Larry Poltavtsev is the founder of Spectrum Human Rights, a non-profit organisation dedicated to fghting for LGBT rights in Eastern Europe