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Russia Wants To Make Coming Out Illegal… Yes, Really

Two Russian lawmakers want to put gay men in prison as punishment for coming out. Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev introduced the bill to the Duma, the lower half of Russia’s parliament, and if it passes gay men could serve up to 15 days in the clink for coming out publicly. Public displays of affection could also get gay men jail time, along with a fine of about $80.

Ivan Nikitchuk, anti-gay Russian lawmaker
Ivan Nikitchuk, giving Communism a bad name
(image via The Journal)

Nikitchuk and Arefyev first proposed the law back in October, but the Duma will be looking at the legislation next Tuesday. The proposed law would strengthen “traditional Orthodox values,” they say. According to its creators, the bill’s language only targets gay and bisexual men because they believe women are more reasonable and better at managing their emotions.

Speaking of men’s emotions, these lawmakers are pretty good at expressing their own feelings in no uncertain terms: “The scum that comes to us from the West is unnatural to Russia,” Nikitchuk said. “These unconventional sexual desires do nothing but disgust normal, smart, healthy people.”

When the law was first proposed back in October, Nikitchuk explained to state newspaper Izvestia (Известия) why homosexuality is such a threat to upstanding Russian citizens: “In a biological sense, failure to reproduce is the same as death and this makes homosexuality a deadly danger for humanity.”

Just to be clear though, homosexuality definitely existed in Russia before Westerners gayed it up: the region’s erotic folklore mentions gay sex as do 17th century historical texts warning Russian monks to “Distance [themselves] from the company of young men with beautiful and feminine faces.” Most infamously, aGerman envoy Adam Olearius said of Moscow residents: “They practice all sorts of perversions… not only with men, but also with beasts.”

Nevertheless, both lawmakers represent the Communist Party, which holds about 20 percent of the seats in the Duma. The majority United Russia Party is actually more conservative, and current trends in Russian politics imply that this bill could actually pass. It’s an election year in Russia, too, and the Communists want to win over the country’s conservative voters.

In 2013, Russia passed controversial anti-gay propaganda laws banning Pride parades, and homophobia continues to run rampant in the country of over 145 million people. Recently, a judge in Murmansk ruled that an attack on the offices of LGBT organization called Maximum were “legal, reasonable and justified.”

Still, Nikitchuk and Arefyev believe those anti-propaganda laws aren’t effective enough, and that more needs to be done to stop the spread of homosexuality.