Deputies Want to Outlaw Gay Sex
April 25, 2002
Ulitsa Vyborgskaya 16, Bldg. 4, 125212 Moscow, Russia
By Kevin O’Flynn, Staff Writer
A group of lawmakers—including Russia’s main representative to the
Council of Europe—say they have begun a campaign to shore up the morals of
the country by recriminalizing homosexuality.
Four State Duma deputies—Dmitry Rogozin, who heads the Russian delegation
to the Council of Europe, Gennady Raikov, Vadim Bulainov and Gadzhi Makhachev—have
introduced an amendment to the Criminal Code that punishes sodomy with up to
five years in jail.
If passed, the legislation would mark a return to the repression of the
Soviet era, when thousands of men accused of being homosexuals were sent to
jail, opponents said Wednesday.
However, few deputies expected that the amendment would become law, and
some called the initiative a blatant publicity stunt.
Raikov, head of the pro-Kremlin People’s Deputy faction, said it was high
time that homosexuality be punished.
"You need to punish homosexuality for three reasons: the spread of
AIDS, the destruction of spiritual morals and the existence in Russia of four
religious confessions that ban it," he said in televised remarks Tuesday
"It’s all blue," said a supporter of the amendment, Communist
Deputy Vasily Shandybin, using the slang term for homosexuals. "All
around there are blues, in the presidential administration and in the
government and in the Duma. ... Who is running us?"
The bill, which was filed in the Duma last Thursday but only made public
this week, provoked sharp criticism from the political mainstream.
"If there are people with a different sexual orientation, as
acknowledged by psychologists and doctors, we must take care of their
rights," said Russia’s human rights ombudsman Oleg Mironov, Interfax
"It will cause laughter in Europe," said Oleg Morozov, a deputy
with Russia’s Regions. "If you want to fight against such a phenomenon,
you cannot do it with the help of prison. That would be an uncivilized
"It’s naked populism," said Alexander Barannikov, a Unity
deputy on the Duma’s law committee, which has to decide whether to send the
amendment to the Duma floor for a vote.
He said Rogozin, as a representative to the Council of Europe, the human
rights body which actively supports gay rights, should lose his post.
"I think that a person with such homophobic views cannot represent
Russia in the Council of Europe," he said by telephone.
Rogozin’s office denied that he co-authored the bill.
"He simply supports it. He didn’t prepare it," said Rogozin’s
spokesman Sergei Butin.
However, the amendment, a copy of which was obtained by The Moscow Times,
identifies Rogozin as a co-author. All four authors are members of People’s
Officials at the Council of Europe refused to comment.
Vladislav Reznik, deputy head of Unity, predicted the bill would cause
outrage in the Council of Europe. "It’s difficult to look at the
amendment as rational," he said in remarks shown on RTR and NTV
Gay rights activists said Russia’s desire to join the Council of Europe
led it to scrap clause 121.1 of the Soviet-era Criminal Code that criminalized
"This violates Russia’s commitments to the Council of Europe,"
said Nikita Ivanov, legal adviser to gay.ru, Russia’s biggest gay web site.
Male homosexuality was criminalized in 1933, while there was never a law
penalizing lesbians. Among the thousands of men sent to prison were singer
Vadim Kozin, director Sergei Paradzhanov and writer Gennady Trifonov.
Although politicians and the authors of the amendment itself are talking
about the legislation as the recriminalization of homosexuality, it only
outlaws sodomy. The amendment stresses that other sexual acts between men and
all acts between women would not be criminalized.
Although the stated aim is to prevent the rise of AIDS, most of those
infected in Russia contracted the virus through drug use rather than
Reznik said the amendment has little chance of being approved, and
Barannikov said it may be voted down by his committee and never make it onto
the Duma floor. The head of the Duma’s law committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov
of the Union of Right Forces, said he did not support the amendment.
Reznik criticized the move as a clear attempt for publicity and "the
support of certain sections of the population in the run-up to the upcoming
parliamentary elections" in 2003.
"It looks like Duma deputies have no other problems to worry about
other than homosexuality," said Viktor Ozerov, head of the Federation
Council’s security committee. "It’s another piece of PR."
[Home] [World] [Russia]