Protesting the Regression to Repression in Russia

Policemen detain an opposition supporter taking part in a picketing calling for the release of the two jailed members the Pussy Riot (Photo Credit: Evgeny Feldman/AFP/Getty Images).

Policemen detain an opposition supporter taking part in a picketing calling for the release of the two jailed members the Pussy Riot (Photo Credit: Evgeny Feldman/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog originally appeared on Fem 2.0

A lot has changed in Russia since I visited Moscow in 1985.

It was an exciting time for citizens of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev had just taken over as the General Secretary of the Communist Party and introduced “Glasnost” or openness to a people who had for years lived under the dictates of a repressive government. Glasnost started a transformation in Soviet society and awoke long dormant aspirations of cultural, civil, and political freedoms.

The ensuing three decades were turbulent to say the least, but resulted in Russians enjoying and exercising greater freedoms, including the key ability to have a say in their own governance.

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When Will Russia and the Former Soviet Union Stop Instituting Homophobic Policies?

Gay rights activists march in St. Petersburg (Photo Credit: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images).

Gay rights activists march in St. Petersburg (Photo Credit: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images).

The upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia has been controversial for a while, compliments of host country’s president Vladimir Putin.

His homophobic policies have lead to widespread boycott calls, but have not sparked official outrage in the former Soviet Union.

On the contrary. This week, Armenia’s state police posted online a legislative proposal to fine up to $4,000 for promoting “non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors. It swiftly took down the proposal from the website after some protest, citing lack of priority and shortcomings. The police credited “several dozen intellectuals” for prompting the legislation in the first place.

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As the World Celebrates IDAHO, Homophobia in Russia is on the Rise

Russian LGBTI activists. The LGBT community faces increasingly repressive legislation in Russia (Photo Credit: Charles Meacham/Demotix).

Russian LGBTI activists. The LGBT community faces increasingly repressive legislation in Russia (Photo Credit: Charles Meacham/Demotix).

Today, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and activists around the world will recognize the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). Exactly twenty-three years after the World Health Organization’s landmark decision to declassify ‘homosexuality’ as a mental disorder, LGBTI people and allies continue their work to ensure that the full spectrum of their human rights is respected and upheld.

Just last week, news out of the Russian Federation served as a tragic reminder of just how critical that work is.

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