June 13th, 2013

Human Rights in Russia

I do not wish to turn my blog into a political platform. The Russian political scene is adequately covered by top bloggers like varlamov.ru and others. I'm primarily interested in Russian people, not politicians or the chaos of legislative action. The past few days my LJ feed is clogged with bloggers writing about recent actions by the State Duma, and these measures also are being widely covered in Western media. My regular readers know I'm most passionate about human rights and, to me, the most fundamental right is expression. Expression in any form - including sexual expression and free speech. And when I say sexual expression, I mean between consenting adults. Not pedophiles or others who prey on the most innocent of humanity - children. Or rapists preying on women.

So I've read a lot about these recent measures, and frankly I don't understand them at all. Perhaps what is most concerning to me is that the ban on homosexual propaganda, gay pride events, etc. was unanimously passed, thus showing absolutely no variance in opinion by those making laws in your country. I understand the primary purpose is to protect minors from exposure to such information, but it basically amounts to an outright ban. As you know, gay rights are very important to me. I'm not a lesbian but have a gay relative and gay friends who are simply trying to live normal lives like the rest of us. I've watched one of these friends get his faced smashed in by a homophobic drunkard in a bar. Such hate and intolerance I will never understand.

Equally disturbing is the bill allowing jail terms for anyone convicted of "insulting religious feelings." I followed the Pussy Riot case as it was well covered in Western media. I have not read this bill in detail, but how can you determine what is "insulting?" I cannot imagine living in a society where you can be jailed and fined for hurting someone's feelings. And how can such laws exist when the Russian Constitution allows for freedom of ideas and speech for everyone? And, yes, I realize such freedoms and your Constitution have existed for only twenty years while ours have existed for centuries. Change does not happen overnight, but there must be some progression of thought and acceptance for any civil society to prevail in today's world.

Do you not find these recent actions alarming? Explain and help me understand.