On the recent anti-homosexual legislation in Russia

Russia has recently taken a lot of flak from around the world, especially from the Western media and governments, regarding its new laws prohibiting “homosexual propaganda.” The backlash against these laws has been so passionate that the country has had to pass additional laws prohibiting protesting in and around Sochi when the Olympics will be held there early next year.

By itself, this new legislation is a dangerous affront to the already shaky implementation of democracy in Russia. It is a violation of freedom of speech and assembly, the basic foundations of any democratic society. The laws discriminate against a certain group of people, making them second-class citizens.

Despite the draconian measures of these laws, the backlash from both the U.S. government and the media is hypocritical and unwarranted. Look no further than our own country. In the United States, supposedly the world’s model for democracy, homosexual couples are treated as second-class citizens.  There is no federal law giving homosexuals the right to marry and all of the legal benefits that come with marriage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

On top of our own country’s shortcomings, we ignore those of our allies. In Russia, “homosexual propaganda” may be illegal, but a gay man or woman can file a lawsuit if they are fired or not hired because of their orientation. Homosexuals are allowed to participate in government, and homosexuality itself is not illegal. However, in Saudi Arabia, a “trusted ally” of America, homosexuality is completely illegal and renders capital punishment. This practice is also carried out in Qatar and other countries allied to the US.

Why does our media never report on the plight of homosexuals in Saudi Arabia? The laws in Russia may be backwards, but they are not openly barbaric. Sadly, the majority of Western media outlets are corporate-owned and therefore can not report objectively on some of our society’s most important issues. Reporting on the persecution of homosexuals in Russia while ignoring the much worse transgressions of Saudi Arabia is a lot more conducive to the agenda of our government, which unfortunately is tied to that of the corporatocracy running our news outlets.

This is most certainly not a defense of the new legislation in Russia, but instead a plea to examine our own conscience and our right as a society to criticize another, very different society.   Who are we to condemn a law (a democratically drafted and passed law) in a different country that discriminates against a certain group of people, when we are oppressing the very same group of people in our own country? How can we point fingers at a country we don’t like for persecuting homosexuals while our very own allies are executing people for their orientation?

Russia’s new legislation is dangerous and alarming, and American citizens should be expressing solidarity with our Russian brothers and sisters. But at the same time, we cannot allow ourselves to blindly indulge in what the media tells us.  When international issues of this nature arise, it is very important to take a step back and not only analyze how we handle the issue at hand in our own country, but question the motives of those providing us with the news and analysis. It is also important to take the extra step and find multiple sources of information from different places around the world.