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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Putin Questioned by the AP About Russia's Treatment of LGBT People

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 10:29 AM

And he lies, lies, lies. But what he said in that interview isn't nearly as important as the fact that he was forced to give that interview. John at Americablog:

I’ve been noting for the past month how interesting it is that Putin hasn’t spoken out about the building gay drama. Lots of other senior Russian officials have, but not Putin. Now he has. Anyone who’s run an effective activist campaign against a large corporation, or especially a politician, knows that they try to insulate the CEO, or the Senator or President—they refuse to let him or her comment on the matter—until they feel they absolutely have no choice. In Putin’s case, that’s clearly what’s happened. Things have gotten so bad that he no longer has a choice but to respond to international criticism.

And it’s clear why Putin feels so cornered. The international outrage following the launch of last month’s Russian vodka boycott, has been deafening. First it was gays and our allies around the world, then it was the international media, just hounding the Russians non-stop about this issue. Then the next shoe to drop, and it keeps dropping, was world leaders weighing in, like President Obama. And now we have the news that Obama will meet with NGO representatives, including gay and trans activists, during the G20 meeting in Russia this coming Thursday. And the additional news that British Prime Minister David Cameron will raise his concerns about the gay situation with Putin.

To call the last month a glaring success would be an understatement.

Putin has even now offered to meet with Russian LGBT activists, something he only offered because President Obama is doing the same. And President Obama likely only offered it because the issue exploded in the news over the past month following the Russian vodka boycott.

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This wouldn't be happening—Putin wouldn't be forced to answer questions about the gays—if it weren't for the activism we've seen in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and other cities around the world. And if we keep the pressure on in the run-up to the Winter Olympics next year, and if we continue to push even after the Olympics (next up: pressuring FIFA to move the 2018 World Cup out of Russia), Russian lawmakers will eventually conclude that the domestic political benefits of scapegoating and persecuting gay people are outweighed by this never-ending international political shitstorm. And there's really only one Russian lawmaker whose opinion matters: Putin. And he isn't happy about the protests taking place around the world.

And this story in the Guardian yesterday drives home the importance of getting these laws revoked:

"The latest laws against so-called gay propaganda, first in the regions and then on the federal level, have essentially legalized violence against LGBT people, because these groups of hooligans justify their actions with these laws," [said Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network]. "With this legislation, the government said that, yes, gays and lesbians are not valued as a social group. It is an action to terrorise the entire LGBT community."

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