Gay pride events in Russia & former USSR

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    May 04, 2011 12:09 AM GMT
    In regards to this article and this site in general:

    It's quite frustrating to see the non-progress of LGBT rights in the former Soviet Union. Reading this article about the failed attempts of holding pride marches the past few years is certainly discouraging. But I have to give these people credit (especially the ones in Belarus) for standing up for themselves despite the likelihood of getting arrested and harassed by authorities.

    But in a way it's not surprising that many social issues like these are progressing so slowly in the former USSR and much of Eastern Europe since they've only had "democratic" governments for 20 years. It's been an incredibly rough ride from socialism to capitalism with economic instability, constant inflation, and growing income inequality. Improving living standards has been by far the biggest goal for many of these countries to fix rather than civil rights.

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    May 04, 2011 1:28 AM GMT
    Yes, the post-Soviet turmoil has focused attention elsewhere.


    The resurgence of the orthodox church is the biggest reason currently preventing any progress from being made.

    Poor people go for religion, and the church has an iron grip on the "morals" of E. European societies. So from Minsk to Moscow to Tbilisi to Belgrade, it's gonna need many many years before they'll even remotely resemble the Western European countries.

    We need double digit GDP growth for another two decades before anything will start happening there.
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    May 04, 2011 1:31 AM GMT
    Religion has been making a mixed comeback in many former Soviet republics. Indeed it's more visible than ever before. But the impression I get from some of my Russian and Ukrainian friends is that they claim to be Orthodox just to have a cultural label, not because they necessarily follow the religion. Otherwise I'd say they're actually agnostic, atheist, or irreligious. But yes, there have been growing numbers of Orthodox, Muslims, and Catholics in much of the former USSR.

    Although I remember reading that during Soviet times homosexuality was considered counterproductive to socialism (non-traditional family), hence why it was illegal.
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    May 04, 2011 3:48 AM GMT
    I think it will be much like the uprising in the middle east, it will take time but eventually the people will speak. It takes generations for repression to truly be extinguished.
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    May 04, 2011 3:53 AM GMT
    There are definitely very different attitudes across the generations. The elderly are the most nostalgic for Soviet times because they want the government security they were promised during those times. Many of them lost their pensions since the transition to democracy. Meanwhile middle-aged people are in a weird state between nostalgia and progress because they were young during Soviet times, but now they're raising their children in a very different environment. Then you have the current generations of young people who are very interested in having material goods. They want all the things that people in the West have. Plus they want to travel the world and become rich.

    With all those attitudes in the forefront of their minds, where exactly do civil rights of any kind come into play? It indeed will take quite a few generations for any progress on these issues.

    Even the former Soviet republics that are now part of the EU (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia) have made little progress on LGBT issues. The people are generally still very conservative towards homosexuality. Of course, it's required that EU countries have some sort of anti-discrimination laws. However, I'd say these countries simply wrote up some laws to satisfy the requirement yet not bother to put them into practice.
  • roadbikeRob

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    May 04, 2011 9:14 PM GMT
    It is going to take a long time for the former Soviet Union along with all the Eastern European countries to advance themselves on equality and other civil rights issues. The horrible influence of Orthodox religion with the ubiquitous fairy tale beliefs has greatly slowed progress to a snail like crawl. Plus continued serious economic problems along with readjustment to a more democratic society has also had a negative impact. Educational attainment is most of Eastern Europe is much lower than the rest of Europe.
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    May 04, 2011 9:24 PM GMT
    It doesn't help either that freedom of speech has been restricted considerably since Putin's administration (complete change from more open Yeltsin times). However, some Russians feel OK about not having much freedom to express themselves if it means more economic stability, and the economy did grow with Putin in office. The mission seems to be to undo what Yeltsin did while he was in office.

    It's frustrating, though. When I studied for a while in Russia, I didn't come out to any of my Russian friends. Not even my female friends! Even those who aren't religious think there's something psychologically wrong about gay people. I ended up coming out only to my Austrian roommate and my Chinese and Korean friends.
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    May 06, 2011 6:04 AM GMT
    No doubt religion has had a resurgence in Russia since the end of the USSR. However, religious people still make up a minority of the Russian population. Most ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians within Russia identify themselves as Christian for the sake of having a label. Otherwise, church attendance amongst self-declared Christians is quite low. Many Russians seem to show irreligious beliefs along with some deep-rooted superstitions.

    The formation of the Soviet Union resulted in an secular attitude towards homosexuality - that it was counterproductive to socialism because same-sex relationships don't lead to children who can eventually work for the state. There were no religious reasons behind it especially since religion was discouraged during Soviet times.

    Thinking back on some of my Russian acquaintances when talking about homosexuality, most of them didn't give me religious explanations for their beliefs. The most common response I got was that they thought homosexuality was a mental disorder.

    I have to wonder how Russian immigrants are handling more liberal attitudes towards homosexuality in Western countries. Russians have steadily been leaving Russia in large numbers since the late '80s for Western Europe, Israel, and North America. There are some considerable Russian-speaking communities in the United States that are side-by-side with gay communities such as West Hollywood and some suburbs of Miami.