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It’s not surprising that Putin would make statements against same-sex marriage and transgender identity. He is renowned amongst global human-rights groups for his anti-LGBTQ policies.
What’s surprising is how many Republicans and right-wingers in the United States agree with him.
Under the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, Republicans have cited gay marriage as a threat to families, religion, and social order. Republicans have tried to ban any acknowledgment of LGBTQ identities from schools and have falsely claimed that LGBTQ people and allies are forcing “sex change operations” on transgender youth. In reality, such operations aren’t conducted on children.
In February, Steve Bannon, former advisor to Trump, said U.S. citizens should support “anti-woke” Putin because of Putin’s long history of anti-LGBTQ politics.
Bannon and his podcast guest, private military contractor Erik Prince, said Russian people “still know which bathroom to use,” know that there are only two genders, they don’t fly Pride flags and “they don’t have boys swimming in girls’ college swim meets,” an apparent reference to trans female swimming champion Lia Thomas.
In June 2013, Putin signed a law banning so-called “gay propaganda” in Russia. The law ostensibly seeks to “protect children” from any “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships,” according to the law’s text.
The law has mostly been used to silence LGBTQ activist organizations, events, websites and media, as well as to break up families and harass teachers. The law has been roundly condemned by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the human-rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as civil rights activists around the world.
Putin has also largely ignored an ongoing and years-long crackdown against LGBTQ people living in the semi-autonomous Russian region of Chechnya.
In the crackdown, which began in December 2016, police and military officials arrest suspected queer people under claims of drug dealing or terrorism. The officials then use electrocution, beatings, extreme cold, starvation, dehydration, isolation, forced nudity and homophobic insults to get arrestees to reveal more suspected homosexuals, according to the Russian LGBT Network. An estimated 33 people have died in the crackdown and hundreds have fled the region since it began.
The Russian military has been accused of torturing and bombing civilians since it first invaded Ukraine in February. Both are war crimes forbidden by the Geneva Conventions.
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