Around 85 percent of adult Russians said they were stronglyagainst a law that would allow same-sex marriage, the Levada PublicOpinion Center reported; 87 percent said they opposed the idea ofholding regular gay pride events in their cities.Researchers claimed that the percent of supporters of same-sexmarriage in Russia fell from 14 to just 5 percent over the pastthree years. The number of those who do not oppose gay pride eventsis a consistently low 6 percent.About 23 percent of those polled said they understood theconcerns held by Russia’s sexual minorities, and believed that theyshould be left to themselves, minimizing societal intervention inprivate lives; three years ago, 24 percent of Russians held thisbelief.Another 27 percent said that the society must provide‘psychological aid’ to gay people, compared to a previous 22percent.On the other side of the spectrum, some expressed strongopposition to homosexuality: 16 percent of those polled suggestedthat homosexuals should be isolated from society, 22 percent saidthat the treatment of homosexuality must be made compulsory, and 5percent said that homosexuals should be ‘exterminated.’Respondents’ attitudes towards adoptions by same-sex coupleswere roughly the same as towards gay marriage: 80 percent of thosepolled said it was unacceptable, 5 percent approved, and 15 percentsaid they had no opinion.The change in public sentiment comes as the Russian parliamentprepares to hold a second vote on a bill that would nationallycriminalize the promotion of homosexuality and pedophilia amongminors, known as the ‘gay propaganda ban’ in the media. Similarlaws have already been enacted in several of Russia’s regions.Violations are punishable by heavy fines, which are bigger forlegal entities and public officials, but carry no criminalpenalties.Russian LGBT activists have repeatedly blasted the bill asdiscriminatory and held rallies and street events against it, whichhave sometimes ended in violent clashes with conservative communitymembers.Street demonstrations by LGBT activists are rare in Russia, andgay pride events are even rarer. Moscow city authorities haverepeatedly denied requests to hold a gay pride parade in the city,claiming it would disturb ordinary citizens and provoke violentclashes, and that the city’s budget could not afford sufficientpolice protection for the event. The argument once ended with ajudicial curiosity – a Moscow court banned gay pride events for acentury, in response to a mocking initiative put forward by a gayrights organization.However, in summer 2012 the Russian LGBT community announcedthat they had held their first-ever pride parade in Moscow. Theevent was disguised as a march against all types of discrimination,but about 70 of its participants did march under rainbow bannersnot far from the city center.Russian legal initiatives against ‘gay propaganda’ have drawncriticism from international rights groups and organizations, suchas the European Union, PACE and the United Nations. The criticsnoted that the bill discriminated against individuals based ontheir sexual orientation, violating their human rights, and alsonoted that the measure limited the freedom of speech.Russian sponsors of the bill replied that the bill aimed toprotect children from premature exposure to sexuality, bothhomosexual and straight, and was not intended to discriminateagainst homosexuals. Top Russian officials also explained that thebill protected the majority from a minority that was allegedlyaggressive in promoting its values.
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