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Continued: Some US conservatives voice support, admiration as Russia cracks down on gay-rights activism

  • Article by: DAVID CRARY , AP National Writer
  • Last update: July 1, 2013 - 1:45 PM

"The admiration of some American conservatives for the repressive Russian policies regarding gay rights are quite simply the words of snake-oil salesmen," said Roberta Sklar of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

"They have lost their footing on U.S. soil and are trying to breathe life into a dying ideology abroad," she said.

Two other groups, the Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Watch, have called on the International Olympic Committee to speak out against the bill as Russia makes final preparations to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year.

"This draft law is clearly incompatible with the Olympic Charter's promotion of 'human dignity,' as well as a blatant violation of Russia's international legal obligations to guarantee nondiscrimination," Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the IOC.

Stefano Gennarini, a colleague of Austin Ruse's at Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, suggested in a blog post that criticisms of the bill in the West were "hyperbole" and defended it as a reasonable effort to protect children.

"Russians have consistently denied homosexual groups parade permits, sparing its children and the public at large the ludicrous and disturbing behavior on show in the squares and streets of Europe and America," Gennarini wrote

He characterized the bill's proposed fines as a tax on public displays of affection by homosexuals, adding that "$155 is hardly unmanageable for homosexuals who want to kiss in public," he wrote.

Gennarini, in an interview, said it would be "imprudent" for U.S. diplomats to criticize Russia's efforts to curtail gay-rights activism. He said people in other regions — notably Africa and the Islamic world — might look to the Russia as a positive example when considering laws of their own.

Scott Lively, a Massachusetts-based evangelical lawyer and activist, conducted a 50-city speaking tour of Russia in 2007, and says the current bill reflects policies that he advocated at the time.

At the end of his tour, Lively released a "Letter to the Russian People," and he redistributed it this month after the parliament vote.

"The purpose of my visit was to bring a warning about the homosexual political movement which has done much damage to my country," he wrote in the letter. "This is a very fast-growing social cancer that will destroy the family foundations of your society if you do not take immediate, effective action to stop it."

Lively advocated training therapists in the techniques of helping gay people "recover" from same-sex attraction and he urged Russia to criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality.

"Russia could become a model pro-family society," he wrote. "If this were to occur, I believe people from the West would begin to emigrate to Russia in the same way that Russians used to emigrate to the United States and Europe."

Lively has been sued in U.S. federal court by a Uganda-based gay-rights group, accusing him of persecuting gays in that East African country.

The suit — which Lively is seeking to have dismissed — contends that he was a key figure in consultations in Uganda that produced tough anti-gay legislation in 2009. The initial version of the bill called for the death penalty in some cases of gay sex, although the author of the measure — which remains pending — says he has removed the death penalty provision.

Lively said he would like to see efforts in the U.S. to discourage all sexual activity outside of marriage, but doubted efforts to restrict gay activism could make headway here.

"Russians, even after glasnost, are comfortable with an authoritarian style," he said. "That wouldn't work in the United States."

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