The recent hysteria over Russia’s latest legal introduction, a law which forbids the imparting of “homosexual propaganda” to minors in Russia, has all the familiar holier-than-thou hallmarks of manufactured outrage, and it very likely is – the Anglosphere perceives that a distinct group – homosexuals – might be split off from Putin and pushed into arranging advocacy marches and protest actions based on the belief that the west supports their recognition. Then western media can run loving coverage of angry rainbow-haired protesters carrying signs with irreverent slogans and unflattering pictures of Putin, and inflate the numbers by the usual factor of three or so in the comforting knowledge that viewers can’t count, or don’t care as long as somebody is protesting Putin’s freedom-strangling authoritarian rule. If it wouldn’t be indelicate to mention it, this comes at just the right time for fans of such spectacles, since Russian protest actions are not only pretty thin on the ground, but starting to become poorly-attended and are essentially just going through the motions. The upcoming March of Dozens arranged by Left Front leader-under-house-arrest Sergei Udaltsov was offered Sakharovsky Prospekt, but turned it down on the grounds that the large venue would make the leanness of their numbers painfully obvious.
Well, what does the law actually say? Hard to tell, really, because it’s still in draft form, but it recommends administrative punishments (fines) for “promotion of homosexuality among children”. The article cited points out that changes need to be made to the bill which will either define “homosexual” or eliminate mention of it, and more closely define “homosexual propaganda”. Note that report was dated January 25th. Yet, today and in past weeks, the Anglospheric press continues to label it an “anti-gay” bill (Thanks, Mike, for the link). Various world policymakers are appalled at this outrageous trampling upon the face of human rights.
Among them is Catherine Ashton – Baroness Ashton of Upholland – High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She apparently shares with Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans the conviction that the bill “could infringe on fundamental rights”. Parroting Hillary Clinton, Timmermans insists, “gay rights are human rights. Discrimination against homosexuals is unacceptable”.
Well, people certainly are wound up about this. Maybe we better go back for a minute and see what they’re negotiating for. According to the article the bill, “makes public events and dissemination of information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors punishable by fines of up to $16,000.”
I’d have to see the actual text of the law, but I don’t believe events were mentioned in it at all. I imagine what they’re talking about is gay pride parades, which indeed have had a tough time in Russia. But the European Union is taking on quite a task if it believes it can force Russia to allow gay pride parades. As far as “dissemination of information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community”, what sort of information would you say was suitable to be pitched to children 15 years old and under? Because that’s what we’re really talking about here. The age of consent for sexual activity, both heterosexual and homosexual, is 16 in Russia. People aged 16 and over are not minors, so what the EU’s busybodies are arguing for here is the right of the gay community to appeal for understanding to children aged 15 years and less.
I realize children are sexually aware very early these days, but how are you going to explain gay sex to a 15-year-old in terms that do not describe the sex act? Is that appropriate, do you think, really? Are a lot of hate crimes against homosexuals in Russia committed by minors? Why the sudden determination and urgency to explain homosexuality in positive terms to schoolchildren? Have there been a lot of requests from Russian children for information on gay sex? You don’t think 16 is early enough? Because that’s perfectly legal.
Oftentimes representatives of the international community like to strut about in high dudgeon, and throw around words like “unacceptable” when they are totally unaware their own country is unacceptable by the same criteria. Let’s look, shall we? We’ll start with Baroness Ashton’s England.
Dissemination of sexually explicit material in the UK is regulated by the Obscene Publications Acts of 1959. A major consideration in what constitutes “obscenity” under the law is “whether publication was made to a child or the possibility that such publication would be likely to take place.” The meaning of “child” in this context is anyone 17 years of age or under, as described below; “[T]he Crown Prosecution Service will not normally advise proceedings in respect of material portraying the following:
- actual consensual sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal)
- oral sex
- mild bondage
- simulated intercourse or buggery
- fetishes which do not encourage physical abuse.
The principal factors influencing whether a prosecution under section 2 is required are:
- the degree and type of obscenity together with the form in which it is presented: for example the impact of the printed word will be less than the same activity shown in film or photograph;
- the type and scale of any commercial venture should be taken into account;
- whether publication was made to a child or vulnerable adult, or the possibility that such would be likely to take place;
- where children are likely to access material of a degree of sexual explicitness equivalent to what is available to those aged 18 and above in a licensed sex shop, that material may be considered to be obscene and subject to prosecution. This applies to material which is not behind a suitable payment barrier or other accepted means of age verification, for example, material on the front page of pornography websites and non-commercial, user-generated material which is likely to be accessed by children and meets the threshold. see R v Perrin,  EWCA Crim 747;
- where publication took place, especially if material can be readily seen by the general public, for example in a newsagents or market, or websites easily accessible to children;
But homosexuality isn’t obscene, is it? No, it’s not. Not to adults. But apparently even scenes of consensual vaginal intercourse are or may be obscene in the UK if they are disseminated to a minor, which for the law’s purposes is a person aged less than 18 years. Lest you think that is an unacceptable discrimination against human rights, the European Court of Human Rights is quick to remind you that while those regulated by its laws have “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”… Article 10(2) goes on to say that, “the exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of … public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, protection of the reputation or rights of other …”
Oh, my. The exercise of freedom of expression in the UK, and indeed throughout the European Union, may be subject to conditions, restrictions or penalties for the protection of morals.
This is the same country that ordered experimental chemical castration for a winner of the Order of the British Empire, a code-breaker who worked on the algorithms to crack the German “Enigma” encoding machine. Alan Turing admitted having a sexual relationship with another man, and for that he was given chemical castration, lost his security clearance and then his job, and two years later killed himself. Because he was gay. But hold on – the British government formally apologized…55 years later.
Just a little over three years ago, the Queen’s butler, Robert Wilson, was demoted and made to take a cut in pay because he was caught cranking himself to images of gay porn. What the hell? Were there any minors about? No? Well, then, the appropriate action would have been to hand the man a tissue – there’s nothing wrong with gay sex, even if it’s only one gay man by himself – what’s the matter with you people? This is…this is…unacceptable!
I have to say, this is just a big downer so far. I’m looking forward to visiting Frans Timmermans’ Netherlands: we’ll surely find a non-stop celebration of homosexuality there. Well, the age of consent is 16, just like Russia – looking good so far. Goedemiddag; could you tell me where I could find some homosexuals? Thank you.
Oh, dear. According to the Toronto Sun, Amsterdam is the gay-bashing capital of Europe! How can that be? I thought the Dutch were so tolerant! Well, they are, actually – the rise in attacks against gays is mostly being blamed on immigrant Muslim youth. The University of Amsterdam recorded 201 incidents of violence against homosexuals in 2007, and researchers believe that is far, far below the actual figure, as it captures only reported incidents. In 2008, 10 Muslim youths broke into a fashion show, dragged gay model Michael du Pree off the stage and beat him bloody. In 2010, lesbians marching in a parade to protest violence against gays – in Amsterdam!!! – had beer bottles thrown at their heads. By beer-drinking Muslims, apparently. In 2009, the founder of Amsterdam’s gay pride parade was attacked. Where the hell was Frans Timmermans when all this was going on? He was State Secretary for European Affairs. Must have been a busy job, that didn’t allow him to get out much and mingle with the gay crowd. Or maybe that article was just a one-off. No, no; I’m afraid it’s not. If anything, the problem was worse in 2012 – a Dutch gay newspaper created a hotline to facilitate reporting of violence against the gay community, and it was overwhelmed with calls. Over 50% of Dutch gays polled reported they had been the victims of homophobic attacks or insults. Gay rights are human rights, Frans – this is fucking unacceptable!!!
The rest of the EU did not invite critical examination by shooting its mouth off or mouthing syrupy platitudes about gay rights in Russia, but since the plane’s still gassed up on the apron, what do you say we do a quick tour? Guten tag, Germany….Oh, oh; maybe we came at a bad time, but it appears the German government doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in its gay community – an inquiry by an opposition politician brought a ministerial response that the government has no knowledge of suicide statistics for homosexual youth, although the response itself referenced a 1999 government study which placed it at 18%. Germany’s suicide rate for gays is four times that of heterosexual youth, while another study commissioned by the ministry itself found gay migrant youths were more likely to suffer poor physical health than heterosexuals. Actually, that’s kind of a cheap shot, because that happened in 2010 – maybe things have improved. Mmmm…nope. In 2012, a new website purporting to be a Catholic site rapidly garnered a million page views, although it ranted about homosexuality and said of a recently-deceased actor that he would “burn in gay hell”. Nice. Come on, we don’t have time for a pretzel. Bonjour, France. Mmmm…a similar problem to the Netherlands, looks like; a clash between gay rights and the beliefs of Islamic immigrants, which is odd, because the Koran prescribes that Muslims shall respect the views and beliefs of others. Che piacere vederti, Italy! Wow; in what has to be an unusual situation, a security camera at one of Rome’s popular gay venues is connected round the clock to the police station, owing to violent attacks on gay Italians. Jak się masz, Poland? No better here, I’m afraid; three bills to legalize civil unions in Poland and grant gay partners limited legal rights did not pass the first reading. The article suggests many Poles do not support unions that cannot produce children.
I think we’d better wrap it up; we’re getting low on fuel, and I can only go so far on a couple of little foil pouches of peanuts. Let’s head home. Summarized in a single word, that was unacceptable.
Let’s be clear – homosexuals deserve the same rights as everyone else. However, homosexuality remains a socially-polarizing subject in most of the world, and no amount of legislation is going to make it popular. Nor should it – if you start giving a social group special rights, it only incurs resentment in the rest of the population. The best any group that is significantly different from the norm can expect is acceptance, courtesy and equality, and I believe gay activists are going to have to settle for that, in Russia and elsewhere, Lady Ashton’s neighing and Frans Timmerman’s timorous squeaking notwithstanding. I’ve read that all gays want in Russia – which is allegedly legislated out of their reach – is equal time in sex education for children. Sex education for children 15 and under, in school, is focused in the most general terms on arousal, impregnation, gestation and birth. Perhaps you can tell me what role you see for homosexuality in that sequence, after arousal? The purpose of sex education in schools is to teach children the very basics of sexual relationships, with a view to the role of parents in the family – I believe they can wait until 16 to learn the joys of something you do purely for your own pleasure, in which procreation has no part. Besides, sex education is not “promotion of homosexuality”, or there is certainly no room in sex education for that aim. I also read, in a somewhat hysterical bit of hyperbole from either a Russian opposition politician or a gay activist – I forget which – that in theory, “if two men were holding hands and a minor was present, they could be arrested”. In a country where men kiss each other on both cheeks? Come on.
I’m going to let apc27 – another in our steadily-growing collection of Alexes – take us out, because I couldn’t express it better than he did.
“I don’t think Western officialdom per se is concerned about homosexuals in Russia, but it does come under great pressure from its own internal gay lobbies and, anyway, is always ready to blame Russia for anything, no matter whether it’s true or not.
Russia does not have a problem with gay groups because its government and its people, in general, do have a sensible view on homosexuality. For them it is not a separate cultural phenomenon, something to be protected, cherished and even encouraged, as happens in the West. In Russia it is just a sexual preference, on par with other LEGAL sexual preferences like BDSM and such; a private matter and a private personal choice, not discussed in public.
Most people do not approve of homosexuality and do not want to see it popularized, but they also do not wish to take that choice away from gay people or see them punished for it. Public opinion has remained pretty much the same on this matter for a long time, yet somehow Western gay lobbies managed to convince themselves that Russia is the next great battleground on this issue… how it happened is quite frankly a mystery to me, when even some members of the West-worshiping liberal opposition, not to mention Communists, nationalists and United Russia, have been known to very vocally oppose pro-gay measures.”
Gay is OK. But it’s not special.