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Gay election: to be or not to be

Why is it that an openly gay or lesbian person has no chance to be a candidate, let alone be elected, in Russia? We addressed this question to two deputies of Russian State Duma: Andrey Vul'f and Ghenadiy Raikov.

ANDREY VUL'F (Union of Rightist Forces):

-Many people in Russia first heard of homosexuality and gay people a mere decade ago. The Soviet Union propaganda machine ignored homosexuality, among many other topics. Therefore, the common public views homosexuality as something exotic and extremely distant from their reality.

At the same time, for most people in Western Europe, it is just a part of normal life. People perceive gay men and women as equal members of society, not just something you see on the TV screen or ballet stage. Of course, homophobia and gay bashing commonly occur even in highly developed countries' rural areas and small towns. However, Russia experiences widespread brutality and hatred towards queer people even in urban areas.

In general, Russian society is not characterized by open-mindedness, but rather by phobias towards minorities (ethnic, religious, or sexual). Westerners can have difficulty understanding this situation. Homophobic taunts and actions occur on a personal, individual level in both Russia and the USA. However, homophobic rhetoric and behavior do not come from the media and government in America, as they do in the Russian Federation.

Openly gay people cannot enter politics for foreseeable future in this country. Only ultraliberal and gay people would vote for such a candidate, which would not bring enough votes to be elected. That is why gay people involved in politics cannot risk their careers by being open about their sexual orientation.

GHENADIY RAIKOV (leader of the People's deputy group):

- Thank God that in Russia the election of a politician who admits his homosexuality is impossible - nobody would vote for him. Homosexuality is a perversion. Well, anyways, in March we are going to pass a law which will criminalize homosexuality. And I can assure you that then no one will dare to say that he is gay anymore!

by Marina Ozerova
translated by Dmitry Kitsov and Craig Desoer

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