Gay Pride Rainbow Flag

Political possibilities for gays in Russia

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

I believe this issue is one of the hottest and most intriguing for Russia. At the same time, it is a restricted topic as the Russian state suppresses the LGBT+ community. I’d say this thing is a hidden fire. 

There’s no contradiction, however. 

First, the current regime promotes traditional family values in Goebbels-like propaganda, dismissing other human relations. I’d call it a soft inquisition. On the other hand, rumours have been circulating for years that Russia’s authorities, both in the Kremlin and the Duma (parliament), are infiltrated by gays. Rumours, for example, say that Vyascheslav Volodin, the Duma’s speaker and Putin’s yesman, is gay. I do not confirm it, I simply don’t have any proof. However, I’ve been hearing this for years, though I don’t follow his private or political life. Yet, I would believe it easily in Volodin’s case. Some even talk about the ‘gay community’ within Russia’s people in power. I’ve heard about some other mighty persons being gays, but they are trying not to disclose it.

Vyascheslav Volodin
Vyascheslav Volodin

The trick is that even if you are gay, you don’t have to come out and declare yourself an openly homosexual. Instead, you have to talk about traditional family values. In this case, you will have no limitations for your political plans; everything else would be up to you. 

What do we have now in Russia regarding gays in politics? If you go out and promote homosexualism in any shape, you can be convicted (!) with ‘gay propaganda’ or whatever it is now legally called. I’d say Russia is returning to the Dark Ages in this regard. 

However, if you’re gay but play by the rules, you will have no problems in building up your career in politics or working for the state. 

I am not a fan of the gay community, I don’t think I have to. Still, I think that no person should be discriminated against for any reason: political, sexual, or anything you could imagine. I think your private life, political views and so on are strictly your business. Anyway, I believe the gay issue is not so important for an average Russian; it is just Kremlin trying to establish itself as a guardian of traditional values to stay in power.

This is why I am bewildered to see what is going on in Russia: homosexual ideology is punished by the state, but the state itself, in many ways, is hypocritically ruled by gays!

Political Possibilities for Gays in America

Photograph of Dean Lewis

Next to some European countries, America is quite conservative. Having said that, I don’t think the US is anywhere near the mouth breathing, knuckle dragging nation of Neanderthals many imagine it to be. I think anyone of any sex or nationality could be President. In fact, someone of African decent has won and a woman won the popular vote in 2016 (Clinton) but lost in the Electoral Collage. Put another way, if it were up to the American people a woman would have been President. 

But being born gay is not a ethnic or gender thing. I think there are only two groups who could not have a politician at the very top of the heap in the US: Gays and Muslims. Perhaps I should mention both in a bit more detail.

Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg

There are gay folks in Congress and homosexuals are fully represented down-slate. This is only an opinion, but I don’t think someone who is gay could win the big enchilada. The highest profile gay person in America today is “Mayor” Pete Buttigieg, the current Secretary of Transportation. He is a Democrat and is highly thought of within the Party. 

Trump was supposed to lose in the Presidential Election of 2016. He consistently polled behind Clinton. So, what happened? The experts think that once a voter was alone in that booth, he/she could vote for anybody and no one else would know. So the same people who said they could never vote for someone with Trump’s morals did vote for him in secret. Once he won, they could, and did, loudly proclaim their hatred for brown people everywhere.

I’ll argue the exact same thing would happen to Pete Buttigieg (Mayor Pete) in reverse; many would pretend they could support an openly gay candidate but would vote against him in the privacy of the booth. I do not think an openly gay candidate could win the Presidency in the current, nasty climate. He would lose not based on policy but because he was gay. Let’s be clear, this person served in Afghanistan where he won the Joint Service Commendation Medal. If he were straight, maybe he would go all the way. But he’s not and he won’t.

If you don’t live in the US, I’ll spend one paragraph explaining why no Muslim can be President right now. The simple truth is Fox Lies has spent every single day from 9/11 until this second, welding the words Muslim and terrorist together. The far right in America is quite open in their racist distain for this group. Every year Christian terrorist kill more Americans than Muslim terrorist. We don’t care. Facts don’t matter.

Political possibilities for gays in Britain

Roger Bara

It may not yet be common knowledge that the UK parliament has, in fact, the largest number of self-identified LGBT members of any national legislature around the globe. So, the possibilities for those who are “non-straight” appear limitless. But it was only fairly recently that MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates felt able to come out.

A couple of watershed moments occurred in British politics in the general election of 1997. Not only did we see the first Labour party landslide in a whole generation, but in the constituency of Enfield, in North London, Stephen Twigg entered parliament after a large 17.4% swing to him saw off his major opponent Michael Portillo. Portillo was already a cabinet minister, and had been widely tipped to be the next Tory leader. Stephen Twigg was openly gay, a “practicing homosexual”, to use the description still popular just two decades ago.

Stephen Twigg
Stephen Twigg

The instinctive default to repress soon began to dissolve. The day after Twigg’s victory, Chris Smith became the first openly gay Secretary of State. Later that year, Angela Eagle came out – she was the first openly lesbian MP since Maureen Colquhoun, who had been deselected in the 1970s purely because of her sexuality. 

Gradually, anti-gay legislation was rolled back, and civil partnerships then equal marriage made it on to the statute books. Effectively, Britain finds itself with the queerest legislature in the world. It’s quite astonishing that a country raised on tabloid scandal has ended up so apparently at ease with gay public figures.

Of course, Britian is not immune from homophobia, with current research showing that 55% of gay young people experience homophobic bullying. But it is now attitudes, rather than legal obstacles, that are the final frontier of LGBT rights. How or if the new assemblage of gay and lesbian MPs change that remains to be seen. Progress has certainly been made, but must not ever be taken for granted.