LGBT magazine The Advocate named Russian President Vladimir Putin as its “Person of the Year.” Wait, what? According to Mashable, to make certain that readers don’t actually mistake this for an endorsement of Putin’s anti-gay policies, they put the words “Person of the Year” on his picture where one might draw a little Hitler mustache if they so desired.
The Advocate‘s “Person of the Year” is similar to that of Time Magazine. It’s not necessarily the magazine saying, “You’re awesome, we love you!” Rather, it’s given to people who have an awful lot of influence over something in the world. In Putin’s case, it’s actually because of his inflammatory, discriminating, and damaging policies against Russia’s LGBT community. Their lede actually says:
Driving the governmental, religious, and popular disdain for gays and lesbians, the Russian president became the single greatest threat to LGBTs in the world in 2014. [emphasis mine]
Prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Putin said that Russia had to “cleanse” itself of homosexuality to increase its birth rate, according to CBS News. The law also implied that children can become gay if they know about the LGBT community, though Putin refused to answer whether he thinks people are born gay, or become gay.
He claimed at the time that Russia’s anti-gay law was about banning propaganda, and not about banning homosexuality itself. He said they weren’t going after anybody, and they had no influence over that part of anybody’s lives. However, The Daily Beast said that experts feared the law could ban anything from gay pride parades to LGBT couples merely holding hands in public.
American conservatives praised Putin’s anti-gay policies.
Sadly, many American conservatives said that Putin’s anti-gay policies are right on the money, according to The Daily Beast’s article. Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera said that Putin merely didn’t want Russia to travel same reckless path down which the U.S. is clearly heading.
Social conservative Scott Lively praised Putin’s anti-gay policies, calling Russia a model for the rest of the world. He said that Russia is protecting its society from becoming “homosexualized,” and that he would like to see homosexuality criminalized all over, as it is in Uganda at the moment.
According to the Washington Post, Franklin Graham, son of conservative evangelical Billy Graham, said that Putin’s anti-gay policies were completely correct. He’s obviously just protecting “his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”
Graham went on to decry President Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s positions on LGBT rights. He claimed that they turned their backs on God’s will and standards, because of course we should force people to abide by the standards of a deity they may not even believe in.
Putin’s anti-gay policies could lead to major LGBT persecution in Russia.
The Advocate notes that Russians caught distributing so-called “homosexual propaganda” could face fines of up to $150 U.S. Non-governmental organizations and corporations could end up paying $30,000 U.S.
The Advocate also reports that a Pew Research poll found 72% of Russians think homosexual behavior is morally wrong. They say that hints at increasing domination of the Russian Orthodox Church. To them, the rise of homosexuality is “a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse.” Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church feed off of each other, however; each one increases the political clout of the other.
They also say that Russian purity is a big part of how Putin defines his identity. Unfortunately, the idea of “national purity” of any type frequently leads to persecution, oppression, and war. Persecution and oppression of the LGBT community may, indeed, follow Putin’s anti-gay policies. Russia, and the world, is unfortunately stuck with Putin until 2024.
It’s important to remember that The Advocate isn’t praising Putin’s bigoted, homophobic law. That would run counter to their entire purpose. What they’re doing is spotlighting how much influence Putin’s anti-gay policies have on the world, including the U.S.