President Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has cynically urged his countrymen to not discriminate against gays and lesbians while in the same breath defending his gay propaganda law.

Speaking to youth leaders on Wednesday, Putin justified signing the internationally condemned law in June by insisting that he and law have been misunderstood and that it is merely intended to “protect” young people.

“You know how much criticism I had to listen to, but all we did on the government and legislative level (was) to do with limiting (gay) propaganda among minors,” Putin said.

He went on to add: “In the meantime we should not create a torrent of hatred towards anyone in society, including people of non-traditional sexual orientation.”

Putin’s words are an attempt to gloss over the reality that portraying homosexuality as something to “protect” children from is by its nature a bigoted and hateful perspective.

In fact, his signing of the gay propaganda law has already led to “a torrent of hatred”.

By demonising homosexuality through the law, Putin has in effect bolstered anti-gay groups and has created a hostile environment in which gays and lesbians are increasingly being marginalised and discriminated against.

There have been reports of teachers being fired for being openly gay and some media outlets have been threatened with fines and closure for publishing articles that might indicate support for LGBT equality.

Activists have documented an increase in anti-gay violence, including disturbing incidents of the kidnapping, abuse and humiliation of young gay people on camera that are posted online.

The law also directly discriminates against gays and lesbians by infringing on their right to free speech and expression and their right to assembly.

The law, after all, has been repeatedly used to ban Pride events and any attempt at peacefully protesting against the law or demonstrating in favour of LGBT rights.

Putin’s hollow call for tolerance is an offensive one; a hypocritical attempt to placate international criticism of Russia’s human rights violations ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

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