Monday, November 25, 2013

Homophobia, Racism and Empire in Putin's Eurasia

As things go, the former Soviet Union is quite a homophobic place.  Over eighty-eight per cent of Russians approve of the law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’, including any assertion that homosexuality might not be deviant or morally reprehensible behaviour.  In other, even more conservative Soviet Republics, hostility against the LGBT community is even more dramatic.  In relatively ‘democratic’ Georgia, one attempt to hold a Gay Pride’ parade, in May this year, was thwarted by a furious mob egged on by extremist Orthodox clerics.  According to recent surveys, ninety-six per cent of Armenians believe homosexuality cannot be justified; and seventy-four per cent of Ukrainians believe homosexuality should ‘not be accepted by society’.   These are disheartening figures; and they provide politicians with dubious democratic legitimacy – like Vladimir Putin – with welcome ways of restoring some form of moral authority, by using a popularly marginalised group as a lightning rod.