Russia again seeks to crack down on gay rights

ReutersPresident Putin and Patriarch Kirill

Further attempts to outlaw homosexuality in Russia have emerged this week. Two developments indicate that the country's attempts to roll back rights for LGBT people show no sign of abating.

Firstly, it's been reported that the preservation of "traditional moral values" will be included in a list of "Russian National interests." According to a state spokesperson, it's an attempt to improve national security: "The strategy proclaims the same strategic national priorities of all government agencies in the field of national security."

Secondly, Human Rights Watch reports next week will see another anti-gay law debated in the Russian Parliament. President Putin has claimed it is safe to be gay in Russia and public acts of affection won't be banned. However, HRW says, "the new bill proposes to do just that: send people to jail for kissing, holding hands, or simply for public behavior that authorities consider non-gender-conforming. Such legislation would further escalate the rabid homophobia and transphobia in Russia, putting LGBT Russians at further risk of violence and discrimination."

Human Rights Watch goes on, "It is hard to exaggerate the sinister absurdity and abusive intent of this bill."

These measures do appear to have a level of support from the Russian Orthodox Church, which is seen as being very close to Putin's regime. In response to recognition of same sex relationships, the Orthodox Patriarch is quoted as saying, "This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction."

Last year, the Orthodox Church abandoned official relations with the Church of Scotland after a vote to allow churches to decide for themselves whether to appoint a minister in a civil partnership.