There are a number of topics which inevitably cause a massive media coverage in the West. One of them concerns the rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.
The Moscow 2013 World Athletics Championship held last week gave enough pretexts for such coverage. Some issues like a Swedish competitor being told to eliminate rainbow colored fingernails and Nick Simmonds’ dedication of his medal to his ‘gay friends’ were better received than what Russian pole vault star Elena Isinbayeva said during the press-conference after her victory.
“…If we allow to propagate sexual relations on the streets, that would be a disrespect towards our citizens. We are against gay propaganda in Russia. We are against publicity but we are not of course about every choice of every single person. It’s their life, it’s their choice, it’s their feelings, but we’re just against the publicity in our country and I support that. We are Russians. Perhaps we differ from the Europeans. We have our own rules which should be respected by those who come to our country…”
This statement caused such unequivocal reaction in some of Western media as none of her record jumps:
“Pole vault star Isinbayeva a symbol of Russian homophobia” (Chicago Tribune);
“Isibayeva’s image as the poster girl of women’s athletics took a heavy blow from which she may not recover” (Eurosport);
“Isinbayeva is not in touch with the rest of the world and having very flawed judgement” (BBC);
to note few of them.
We believe that the issue behind such outraged reaction and Russian civil society’s view on it should be clarified.
In June 2013 a new Russian law banned propaganda of ‘untraditional sexual relations’ to minors contemplating fines up to 3000$ for persons, 6000$ for officials and 30000$ for companies breaching it. Another act prohibited the adoption of the Russian children by foreign gay pairs and individuals in the countries where single-sex marriages are legalized. Thus the inalienable right of the Russian children to be brought up in traditional family environment and make up their mind about preferable sexual orientation later, after becoming adult, was legally protected. This legislation does not have a single clause discriminating homosexuals or making pederasty as social phenomenon illegal and punishable in Russia. Moreover, the law eventually tends to get the issue on e.g. gay parades, very sensitive for the overwhelming majority of the Russians harshly opposing it, out of the focus of public attention and therefore prevents potential provocations undermining safety of the members of sexual minorities here.
Nevertheless the laws were immediately questioned and labelled as ‘retrograde’ by the international press. A public campaign was launched in the West to protest against ‘Russian anti-gay laws’. British comedian Stephen Fry even dared to call British PM David Cameron to boycott Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014 on the same pretext.
No doubt that the media stir around Elena Isinbayeva’s words will calm down soon. But this scandal showed us very clearly the real price of Western verbiage about “freedom of speech” and “tolerance”. It turned out that the defenders of traditional family and children’s rights are not privileged to enjoy tolerance from the advocates of ‘equal rights for all’ nor have the right to be listened respectfully.
We will explain the reasons of such disproportionate attention of the mainstream to homosexual matters and most plausible outcomes of such media trends in our future posts.