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1 in 5 Russians want gays and lesbians ‘eliminated,’ survey finds Elizabeth Kuhr Nearly 1 in 5 Russians want to “eliminate” gay and lesbian people from society, according to a new survey, a finding that has incited fear and anger among LGBTQ activists in the country. “There is this feeling you are targeted, and that 18 percent believe I should be eliminated is just awful,” said Svetlana Zakharova, an out lesbian living in St. Petersburg. “It was very emotional.” The survey, published this week by the Levada Center, a nongovernmental research organization based in Moscow, also found that 32 percent of respondents wanted to “isolate” gay men and lesbians from society, compared to 9 percent who wanted to “assist” them. One of the researchers, Ekaterina Kochergina, said she and her team wanted to measure the “social distance” — which in this context is unrelated to the global pandemic — between the Russian population and groups considered by some to be “deviant.” In addition to sexual minorities, the survey looked at how ostracized feminists, pedophiles, terrorists and people living with HIV/AIDS are from Russian society. “The more unfavorable, the more social distance between us and them,” Kochergina explained. Kochergina acknowledged moral concerns about the phrasing of the questions and the selection of identities included in the survey. She said the use of the word “eliminate” in the survey means “to make something disappear from your reality,” not to physically destroy people, and that the questions were about identity groups as “phenomena.” “A lot of people in Russia would not want to see gay people existing,” said Kochergina. “Not necessarily to kill them but to have a society where this does not exist as a phenomenon.” The survey, which polled over 1,600 people from 50 Russian regions in face-to-face interviews, was part of the Levada Center’s ongoing research for its “Soviet Man” project. Started in 1989, Soviet Man aims to document the changing social perspectives of Russian people since the fall of the Soviet Union. “The idea is to try to understand what is the ‘Soviet person,’” Kochergina said. “It’s an archetype.” She said that while perspectives on social issues are evolving, some Russians still harbor negative opinions of people who are different. “Other means dangerous,” she explained. Zakharova, who serves as a board member and the communications manager for the Russian LGBT Network, the country’s largest LGBTQ organization, said the Levada Center’s survey was damaging and could trigger more hatred in a nation where “the level of hatred and violence … toward different groups” is already “very high.” “These questions published read ‘how to deal with those people,’ and there is the answer: ‘liquidate,’” said Zakharova, who thinks the language used should be illegal. “It’s not about phenomena for me; it’s totally about social groups.” Kochergina chalked the 18 percent up to Russians “who are very aggressive toward anyone who is marked as ‘the other.’” These people, she said, would vote to “eliminate” or “isolate” anyone different from themselves. Zakharova, however, fears that the wording of the survey questions, particularly the “eliminate” one — even if it was not intended to mean physical elimination through violence — will lead Russians to believe that this is in the realm of possibility. “It is very scary and very worrying,” she said, adding that there are anti-LGBTQ Russian “groups that are very active and very aggressive and very visible, and they feel supported by the government.” Russia passed a law in June 2013 that bans distributing information on LGBTQ relationships and issues to minors. Under the legislation, also known as the “gay propaganda law,” any act or event that authorities deem to promote homosexuality to children is punishable by a fine. After the law passed, the country saw an increase in anti-LGBTQ violence, according to a 2014 Human Rights Watch report. In a 2019 Russian LGBT Network poll, more than half of the LGBTQ people surveyed reported experiencing at least one type of violence or abuse due to their gender identity and/or sexual orientation: 56 percent reported experiencing psychological abuse, 12 percent reported physical violence and 4 percent reported sexual abuse. Over the past several years, there have also been a number of disturbing reports of state-sponsored detention, violence and torture against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, a semiautonomous Russian region “The state gives the signal that LGBT people are not real people, that they are second- or even third-class citizens,” Zakharova said. “This is scary.” Despite reports of increased violence and the enactment of the “gay propaganda law,” Kochergina said the situation has improved over the past three decades, when the Soviet Man project first started. “Things from a political point of view have become worse, but still somehow Russian consciousness tries to be better,” she said, noting that in 1989, the survey’s first year, 35 percent of those polled wanted to “eliminate” gays and lesbians, compared to 18 percent in the latest findings. This year’s Soviet Man survey also found 79 percent of Russians want to “assist” people with HIV/AIDS, an increase from 53 percent in 1989. “It’s nice to see that actually the willingness to see homosexuals, to accept them, is actually rising,” Kochergina said. She pointed to a separate survey released by the Levada Center last year that found Russian attitudes toward LGBTQ people — while still predominantly negative — have improved, especially among young, educated women. Twenty percent of last year’s participants said they completely agree that gay men and lesbians should have equal rights in Russia, compared to just 7 percent in 2013 when the “gay propaganda law” was passed. The 2019 data also found that those with gay and lesbian acquaintances have more positive attitudes toward sexual minorities. While Zakharova said the situation for the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community is indeed dire, the Russian people are “not as homophobic as authorities or federal mass media try to portray them.” While the government may be treating the community worse, she added, the situation on the whole “is slightly changing for the better.” https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/1-5-russians-want-gays-lesbians-eliminated-survey-finds-n1191851
St Petersburg metro explosions kill ten At least 10 people have been killed in explosions at underground stations in St Petersburg, Russian media report. The Tass and Interfax agencies reported the blasts hit the Sennaya Ploshchad and nearby Institute of Technology stations in the centre of the city. Images posted on social media showed a carriage in Sennaya station with its doors blown out with casualties nearby. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is in the city, has been informed, Russian media say. The cause of the explosions is not yet known. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39481770# http://news.sky.com/story/ten-dead-after-st-petersburg-metro-blast-10823471
The Pope and head of the Russian Orthodox Church release statement against gay marriage Feb. 13, 2016 The Pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church have released a joint statement condemning same-sex marriage. The statement, consisting of 30 points, holds wide-reaching significance for Catholics and followers of the Orthodox Church. The main message of the statement seems to be the reconciliation of the Orthodox and Catholic churches. However, as well as a coming together of the two denominations, the statement condemns war in the middle east and the persecution of Christians. Going on, the statement says Pope Francis and Kirill are “concerned” about Christians being “confronted by restrictions to religious freedom”. Secular societies are next on the list, saying that Christians face “outright discrimination”, and that they are faced by an “often very aggressive secularist society”. The pair urge Europe to “remain faithful to its Christian roots”, and calls on European Christians to be more outspoken about their faith. In a similar vein to many statements made by the churches, the “family” was high on the agenda. One point calls family the “natural center of human life and society”, but they say they are “concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries”. They then say that “the family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman.” The Pope and the Patriarch are apparently worried that the “biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.” Patriarch Kirill in 2013 condemned the advance of marriage equality in the West, calling it a symptom of the apocalypse. The Russian Orthodox Church has been a key supporter of Russia’s anti-gay law, and Patriarch Kirill maintained the Church’s view that homosexuality is a sin – although he has cautioned against punishing people for their sexuality. In 2009 he told an interviewer: “We respect the person’s free choice, including in sex relations.” Pope Francis last month attacked same-sex marriage and civil unions, ahead of a debate in the Italian Senate at introducing civil unions for same-sex couples. He said: “There can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union. “The family, founded on indissoluble matrimony that unites and allows procreation, is part of God’s dream and that of his Church for the salvation of humanity,” he added.
On August 19, an unusual marriage was registered in Moscow: Two girls in similar wedding dresses turned up at one of the city's civil registry offices. The two girls had decided to officially register their relationship, despite the fact that same-sex marriages are prohibited by law in Russia. However, officials were unable to refuse them, as one of the brides, known in the Russian LGBT community as the blogger Alina Davis, is a transsexual. According to her passport, Davis is actually a man named Dmitry Kozhukov. A gay Russian-American examines Sochi protest A gay Russian-American examines Sochi protest According to Davis, to avoid a scandal, the civil registrars office staff threatened not to let the young couple inside if both came wearing dresses. Going to the civil registrars office was not scary, although we were threatened, she said. We submitted our application in May, and everything was fine. During the ceremony, the civil registry office manager became indignant with the eccentricities of this young couple, and sincerely wondered aloud why a man would want to become a woman. However, according to the newlyweds, there were no further verbal skirmishes. This wedding of two 'non-traditional' individuals sparked heated debates on the Russian internet. First published in Russia by Metro Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines - http://rbth.com/news/2014/08/22/moscow_officially_registers_marriage_between_two_brides_39217.html)