The Russian parliament has moved to tighten already stringent restrictions on the discussion of LGBTQ rights and relationships.
A draft bill calling for the broadening of a 2013 ban on the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors, widely referred to as the “gay propaganda” bill, was announced on the website of the parliament, or Duma, on Monday.
The bill would ban public discussion of LGBTQ relationships in a positive or neutral light, and any LGBTQ content in cinemas.
After Russia withdrew in March from the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, Parliament Speaker and Putin ally Vyacheslav Volodin said “demands to legalise same-sex marriages in Russia have become a thing of the past” and that “attempts to impose alien values on our society have failed”.
Pro-Kremlin figures have repeatedly pitched the ongoing war in Ukraine as a battle against “Western values,” which they say include LGBTQ visibility and rights.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia liberalized some of its anti-LGBT laws.
Most notably, homosexual relationships were decriminalized in 1993. Transgender Russians have also been allowed to change their legal gender on identity documents since 1997, although there are many obstacles to the process and invasive surgical requirements remain in place.
Despite these liberalization trends during the immediate post-Soviet period, in recent years, Russian authorities have routinely denied permits for Pride parades, intimidated and arrested LGBT activists and condoned anti-LGBT statements by government officials
On Sunday, Apti Alaudinov, the commander of Chechen forces fighting for Russia, praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it a “holy war” against the “Satanic” values of Europe and the United States as well as the LGBTQ community.
Alaudinov made the remarks during a recent segment of Russia’s state-run Russia-1 television channel. A clip of his remarks were shared to Twitter on Sunday by Julia Davis, a columnist for The Daily Beast and creator of the Russian Media Monitor. Chechnya, where Alaudinov hails from, is a Republic of Russia under the jurisdiction of Moscow.
In his comments, the Chechen commander praised Putin for standing up against the West and NATO, describing them as evil. He praised the Russian president for preventing LGBTQ rights from advancing in their country, contending that the fight in Ukraine was a war against the marginalized community.
This is a holy war our saints and elders spoke of,” Alaudinov asserted, who went on to say that he praises God to live in Russia and that the country is led by Putin. “He is the man that refused to accept the so-called European values,” the commander added.
“In reality, those are Satanist values that are imposed on the entire world,” he said. Alaudinov noted that he is “grateful” that Putin is following the values of “the Most High,” referring to God. “We are not under the flags of the LGBT and as long as he’s alive, we won’t be under those flags.”