(Weekly Column)

I knew Russia was likely to embrace homophobia the moment I read that approximately 1.25 million Russians have emigrated from the nation in the past decade. Population experts say that the mass exodus is comparable in size to the migration following the Bolshevik Revolution.

Putin 250x300 Homophobia: A Mark of Loser NationsThis one-time superpower is disintegrating into a superstitious country more concerned about angels than economics. Each day, for example, tens of thousands of Russians stand in line for up to 12 hours in frigid weather to kiss a glass covered case that they believe holds the Virgin Mary’s belt.

To top it off, Vladimir Putin’s voracious appetite for power is morphing Russia into an unsettling hybrid that vacillates between pseudo-democracy and sort-of dictatorship. The faltering of this country, which has the world’s 11th largest economy, would be significantly worse if it were not for the good fortune of having oil and gas exports.

In this politically stagnating and spiritually stifling environment, it is predictable that the city of Saint Petersburg would consider a totalitarian bill imposing fines for the so-called promotion of gay “propaganda.” If it were to pass, anyone who committed “public acts” promoting homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender identity to minors could pay up to 3,000 rubles while an organization could pay 10,000 to 50,000 rubles.

Such an outright assault on expression and speech are not the product of a free country and rightfully raised red flags within the U.S. State Department.

“Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” the State Department said. “We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens.”

Without exception, loser nations are always the most homophobic. Leaders of such lands desperately look for scapegoats to distract the public from noticing their dismal failures. They also find the promotion of religious extremism useful, because it is more difficult to vilify leaders who present themselves as deified.

The LGBT community rarely thrives in backward places that promote ignorance over education and medieval views over Mugabe Homophobia: A Mark of Loser Nationsmodernity. As these intellectual swamps sink, sexual minorities make ideal targets because their members are often isolated and deeply closeted, vulnerable to persecution, and don’t have the numbers to fight back.

Russia is not the only loser nation where leaders manipulate the public through virulent gay bashing. Brutal Zimbabwe dictator, Robert Mugabe, called homosexuality un-Christian and un-African last week, and then threatened to severely discipline anyone in a gay relationship.

“Do not get tempted into that (homosexuality). If you do fall for it we will punish you severely,” said Mugabe.

This warning comes from a loathsome tyrant who is single-handedly responsible for this nation’s despair and disrepair. By attacking LGBT people, the potentate hopes to mask his misdeeds. Anti-gay hate groups, such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, aid this criminal by allowing him to pose as pious.

Even in some advanced nations there is the threat of retrograde preachers who have no qualms about dragging their countries into the gutter for personal riches and political gain. In Brazil, televangelist Silas Malafaia has become the country’s Pat Robertson, politicizing culture war issues like LGBT equality.

The New York TimeBrazil Homophobia: A Mark of Loser Nationss reports that the self-righteous televangelist is transported in a private jet and that his fingers are “adorned with diamond-encrusted gold rings.”

Sure, the Bible says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” But one gets the distinct impression that Malafaia would solve this problem by hiring an architect to build a hollow needle of gold the size of the Lincoln Tunnel and drive through it in his Mercedes-Benz.

Homophobia is a mark of failing nations. Even in America, it is the emblem of poor, second-tier states. It is the signpost of inferior cities that perpetually fail to reach their potential and can’t figure out why.

It is not that anti-gay sentiment on its own causes the collapse of such places. It is that homophobia virtually never stands alone. It can only flower in corrupt environments that lack basic freedom, devalue education, limit liberty, have huge income disparities, degrade women, discourage religious pluralism, mock intellectuals, and promote superstition at the expense of science.

As a general rule, places that are leaders in passing anti-gay laws are losers in virtually every other category that defines successful, civilized societies.

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From Doug Ireland, Gay City News:

St. Petersburg: How you can help fighting anti-gay laws in Russia?

Join the international Campaign: 10’000 letters to the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations

Many of you have been asking us how you can help to fight the bill in the most effective way. This Press Release aims to answer your questions as well as bring more insight about the context.

 Homophobia: A Mark of Loser NationsIn the last few days, GayRussia has been consulting with its activists, other Russian based LGBT activist groups and legal specialists to think of how to best address the current circumstances.

First, you need to know that the bill is politically motivated: Russia’s Parliamentary election will take place on December 4th and targeting LGBT is a way to earn support from religious and nationalist organizations. The bill received support from Valentina Matvienko the former Governor of the city who is now the speaker of the Upper Chamber of Parliament. Politicians in Moscow said that they are ready to implement a similar law in the Russian capital but also at the Federal level.

Second, we want to stress that the ban of the promotion of LGBT rights on the public place is de facto enforced in Russia since 2005. Implementing this law is only materializing what has been a sad reality for years. For several years, GayRussia has been denouncing the absence of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association for Russian LGBT. As a reminder, over 300 public events applied by GayRussia have been banned, LGBT groups partnering with us have been denied registration by the government in several regions, our activists have been often fined, arrested, judged and humiliated. They introduced 20 cases with the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. Russian prosecution refused to open criminal investigation against Mufti Talgat Tadjudin, the Governor of Tambov, Oleg Betin, and the former Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, for calling hatred or to kill LGBT people. The Russian Courts even legalized the insult “gomik” (faggot) which was used by Yuri Luzhkov while referring to gays.

Third, we see this law as a “unique” chance for the Russian LGBT community to re-mobilize itself as it did in 2002 upon the attempt to re-criminalize homosexuality and in 2006, on the eve of the first Moscow Gay Pride.

Russia’s LGBT community has historically been divided and GayRussia would like to hope that today’s attacks by politicians in St. Petersburg will serve as a lesson for LGBT groups in St. Petersburg who have been appearing in the media since 2005 arguing that both “gay prides” and “gay marriage” are provocations.

This anti-LGBT law is a chance for Russian LGBT people to work against homophobe politicians and government rather than to work against each other. Our enemies are homophobes: LGBT rights campaigners should not attack each other. If we stand united, we have more chance than if we stand in two opposite sides where we only fuel the anti-gay rhetoric.

Fourth, the St Petersburg law is nothing new in Russia. Similar laws have already come into force in Ryazan (in 2006) and in Arkhangelsk (in 2011).  More frightening, it is being discussed in Moscow, and also in Ukraine. It was also discussed in Lithuania in the past years.

GayRussia is the only Russian LGBT group which campaigned against the anti-gay law in Ryazan in 2009 when Nikolay Baev and Irina Fedotova (Fet) were arrested, detained and judged for holding a banner in front of a local school stating that “Homosexuality is normal”. The Constitutional Court gave a decision arguing that the law did not contradict with the Constitution. The activists lodged a case with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and with the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.

These two cases are today a chance to make anti-gay laws history not only in Russia but in the whole of Europe.

The faster the European Court of Human Rights will open the case of Nikolay Bayev against Russia, the faster we will get a decision. And this decision will be binding for Russia. More important, it will make a European precedent which will serve Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, Ukraine, Lithuania and maybe more.

JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN!

At this stage, your support and your mobilization should be thought to help achieving a global solution to this problem, not only in St. Petersburg but also, in Ryazan, in Arkhangelsk, in Moscow, in Ukraine and elsewhere.

By asking the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee to prioritize the case of Bayev and Fedotova, you can make a difference, globally. GayRussia propose template letters that you can print and send. An envelope, a stamp, and a piece of paper is all you need !

If 10’000 of you write a letter to these two institutions, IT CAN MAKE A CHANGE. Each of your letters will be filed in each case. The more letters are filed, the more chances we have to show the importance of these cases.

Templates of letters to send are available here:

http://www.gayrussia.eu/en/campaigns/model_letters.php

It will then be on our side to do the job and ensure that we win the case. We assure you that our efforts to fight in Court and win the case will be tireless and unstoppable as our previous campaigns have always been. Our aim is to defeat our Constitutional Court and our homophobic government. This year, GayRussia won the first ever LGBT case in Russia in the ban of the Moscow Pride at the European Court of Human Rights.