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Russian Anti-Gay Policies 'Could Kill Its Cities'

Russia has undergone no shortage of bad press in recent months. Its newly adopted anti-gay propaganda hve prompted outrage the world over, and have already put a damper on events such as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, months or even years in advance. 

Now, The Atlantic is reporting that Lansing, Michigan, is joining the growing list of global municipalities that are loooking to sever ties with their Russian "sister cities", which already includes the likes of Milan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Reykjavik. Thus, as Russia inists on moving contrary to the global march toward human rights, the consequences could prove to have political and economic impact:

"St. Petersburg was, for hundreds of years, a city that took pride in its relative openness to global culture. When Peter the Great founded the city in 1703, he envisioned it as a "window on the West," a place where the values of the Enlightenment could be explored and celebrated. It was designed and built by the finest talents from around the world.

"Now, St. Petersburg is leading the way backward. Russia and its cities, by pursuing draconian anti-gay policies, are shutting themselves out of a global community where the benefits of an open society are ever more apparent."

Stolichnaya-1280x960It's no secret that international events such as the Olympics and the World Cup have the potential to generate a host of financial benefits for its host city and host nation. This is, of course, why so many cities vie for a chance to host such events. That said, should hosting a global event prove to be the potential source of controversy for the event's governing body, it would almost certainly deter them from coming back to that same city of country in the future. That's also not counting international boycotts of Russian products, which already have large companies such as SPI Group looking for ways to completely sever ties with the anti-gay nation. Let's also not forget the tourism dollars that Russia stands to lose in the future, from both gay tourists as well as those whom support human rights in general.

Finally, as The Atlantic illustrated by presenting the story of journalist and activist Masha Gessen, Russia's anti-gay laws have prompted an exodus of gay citizens, as well as their advocates. This only exacerbates the country's appartent desire "to shut down intellectually," and cost the country potentially vital intellectual capital. Thus, while the short term costs of losing "sister city" partnerships may be small, in the words of The Atlantic, "They are losing their future."

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  1. maybe its all part of putin's plan to recreate the soviet union. russia wasn't a tourist destination until recently anyhow so who wants to go there anyway. again they'll suffer a brain drain because gays will be seeking asylum in the west. wouldn't doubt if the russian orthodox church is involved.

    Posted by: m | Aug 17, 2013 9:34:00 PM

  2. @M, the church is most definitely involved. I've read several articles about how it is behind these laws.

    I really hope Russia sees the negative impacts of this legislation quickly so that they can possible reconsider. Otherwise, they (those who support the anti-gay laws and government) will hopefully get what they deserve. I just feel badly for all the LGBT Russians who aren't able to leave the country for asylum.

    Posted by: AriesMatt | Aug 17, 2013 10:39:55 PM

  3. of course the russian orthodox church is involved. hasn't the church lead the way in anti-gay bigotry for thousands of years, working it's way into politics every possible opportunity?

    i partly disagree with the article, though. they aren't losing anything, they willfully threw it away, without realization of the cultural and financial impact for years to come. but that's ok, they'll have more time for prayer.

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 17, 2013 11:18:33 PM

  4. I think Africa is still worse.

    I've heard the arguments that real change and improvement will only come by being engaged, but at some point one has to look at the cost benefit. Not everyone can have a good life, and life is not fair.

    It's difficult when religion is involved because there is nit middle ground. They have to admit they are wrong and change. Good luck with that when they think it means eternal damnation or salvation.

    Posted by: Steve Talbert | Aug 17, 2013 11:19:10 PM

  5. Russia is bound and determined to do things the long, hard way.
    As the saying goes: If you see someone intent on hanging themselves, don't get in their way.

    Posted by: David From Canada | Aug 17, 2013 11:34:59 PM

  6. The image of this country is disgusting and the back and forth BS in response to enforcement (LBGT "propanganda law"), vs non enforcement tells me Putin is running this country by the seat of his little pants.

    The Olympics are already tainted by it and will be a disaster for his and his country's "image". Ugh.

    Boycott anything Russian. This country is full of hate.

    Posted by: Will | Aug 17, 2013 11:37:40 PM

  7. here's something that points to a general crackdown on any kind of dissent

    Posted by: m | Aug 17, 2013 11:39:09 PM

  8. "Its newly adopted anti gay propaganda has prompted OUTRAGE THE WORLD OVER". You mean the European and American world. I think most of the people of Africa, a great many of the people of Asia and ALL of the Backward Muslim world probably think that the Russians are too lenient in their treatment of LGBT people.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 17, 2013 11:42:29 PM

  9. frightening to think of how anyone arrested will be treated. doubtful the russian system of justice will be fair in even applying these laws as disgusting as they are to begin with. imagining lots of beatings and worse that will never see the light of day. it might be enough to shut up even the most dedicated and determined.

    Posted by: m | Aug 17, 2013 11:48:40 PM

  10. That meteor should have landed on the Duma earlier this year.

    Posted by: Albert | Aug 17, 2013 11:54:38 PM

  11. My guess on the backroom church/state politics: the Russian Orthodox patriarchs think they're using Putin and Putin thinks he's using them. I suspect the latter is more true.

    Posted by: Profe Sancho Panza | Aug 18, 2013 12:11:10 AM

  12. The "Global March" is not their global march. Russia will not save itself via reactionary American gays. What is so precious to protect?

    Posted by: Jay | Aug 18, 2013 12:11:41 AM

  13. Did Detroit have a lot of gay bars??

    Posted by: Scott | Aug 18, 2013 12:13:40 AM

  14. Bend over Russia. Our way or the highway!

    Posted by: KG | Aug 18, 2013 12:18:45 AM

  15. Welcome to the New Russia, same as the Old Russia.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Aug 18, 2013 1:36:38 AM

  16. Btw, the distinctive soviet art style, the bold, chiseled and macho looking art of the CCCP, was very much grounded in a homophobic aesthetic, ie, we are not weak and effeminate but manly men asserting our manliness. Like Putin.

    Posted by: Kev C | Aug 18, 2013 2:19:03 AM

  17. a group of 45 of us were going to russia but we have all cancelled the trip.
    they can go screw themselves.
    BOYCOTT !!!

    Posted by: Fidobarks | Aug 18, 2013 2:38:25 AM

  18. This post is REALLY reaching

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 18, 2013 3:12:48 AM

  19. This article is wrong on many fronts but that is expected based on citing news reports that are not coming from any regular journalists. I am an American living in Russia for the last 10 years. There is no mass exodus, if anything there has been a net inflow for a number of years. The anti propaganda law was pushed by the church which is feeling threatened by new generations who are rejecting organized religion. The appeal to shore up its base of highly conservative old voters who have been swinging towards the Communist Party(last election, they received 20% of the vote, second only to Putin's party with 68%.).
    A few facts should be learned, the law is patterned after a child protection law passed by Thatcher and still on the books in England, and one in Switzerland. It addresses specific promotion of male gay sex to children. There has already been a law that addresses straight sex promotion to children. Both were products of politicians trying to gin up flagging support, just like in the US where the far right has appealed to the same sort of laws to cement support from the fundamentalist churches in the US.
    Contrary to misunderstanding in the west, sex between males was made legal by federal statutes in 1992, 11 years before a court ruled the same in the US. The difference is no one is trying to overturn that law in Russia. It is accepted by adults that what people do is up to the individual. There is no law restricting gay sex, there never was one regarding female-female sex. No one has been arrested or charged under this law, life goes on as normal. The clubs and cafes have not been harassed, they are thriving.
    There have been arrests in non-permit demonstrations however, as with other protest topics which do not apply for a permit or are denied.
    Generally, citizens here do not realize there is such a political controversy, they see it in the news but just assume it is a disinformation campaign since they have been the brunt of so many such campaigns in the past.
    You should find out first hand what is going on before assuming that a law is or isn't what is reported to be by western press. Note that no western news organization has reporters here, unlike during the Soviet era when all had full time offices.
    Overall, compared to the US where there are thousands of religion based laws related to all human behavior, there is a noted lack of behavior laws in Russia. The country is only 22 years old so they have not passed many laws. For many, they cite more personal freedom than in the US, where people have just grown up with such intrusion and assume it is normal.
    Sure Russia has a ways to go but it has made remarkable progress in 22 years compared to most countries, including the US which still can't institute a law or amendment granting equal rights to women or banning the death penalty, which Russia did both in its constitution from day one.

    Posted by: Am-Expat | Aug 18, 2013 6:20:09 AM

  20. andrew: Yes, but the fact is european and north america reaction what really matters, because those are the countries that can damage Russia's economy.
    Those are the countries that buy russia's product, the ones that send them tourist.
    Africa right now is aconomicaly irrelevant, and the african countries with decent economies like South africa, are far more modern than Russia right now.

    And i don't get the african comparision, Russia is not a third world country, is a first one economy. It's an european country, you expect something better from Russia than from Uganda or Sudan

    Posted by: jjose712 | Aug 18, 2013 6:36:51 AM

  21. Just as in AfriKKKa the 'church' is the reason for the laws. Backward Russia is going to have the olympics, thanks to the weak kneed IOC, but people can watch on TV, they do not need to fill the stands, hotels, and restauramnts in Russia. Just stay home!

    Posted by: billmiller | Aug 18, 2013 8:43:37 AM

  22. I see this as a state shuddering in the last throes of post communism- a newly rekindled church out of the shadows flexing its muscle, but stuck in the 1950's.

    Also, gay the new Jew. We are the scapegoat for social problems, the whipping boy for fear about an uncertain future. Look at what's being said in leftist Venezuela. It's all the same blame that was hurled on Jews in Germany during a time of social unrest. We serve a purpose to political demagogues and, if we are forbidden from speaking up, then the abuse can just keep on coming.

    Russia can't be part of the community of nations for some things and not others. They are going to have to sign up for the whole program, or none of it, and it's up to us to show them how that's going to work. To your battle stations, fellow homos!

    Posted by: Rob | Aug 18, 2013 8:50:46 AM

  23. In this country, the Evangelicals have embraced this level of fevered hatred of gays for as long as I can recall. They have pushed it into their political agenda and have been losing ever since. I am waiting for the right-wing nuts to start spouting off "Well, Russia is evicting or killing the gays; why can't we?" while talking about how socialist our country has become...

    Posted by: 99% | Aug 18, 2013 9:11:55 AM

  24. Screw these pigs. Let them die a slow death.

    Posted by: Mmike1969 | Aug 18, 2013 9:35:33 AM

  25. Our neighbors to the north have an open door policy towards any gay Russians that might consider leaving that fun loving country. Maybe our immigration system might consider the same policy!

    Posted by: EJC | Aug 18, 2013 9:46:49 AM

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