From the ban on “LGBT propaganda” to a ban on people. The last 10 years in 50 homophobic quotes by Russian politicians
Анна Павлова
From the ban on “LGBT propaganda” to a ban on people. The last 10 years in 50 homophobic quotes by Russian politicians
3 December 2023, 12:43

Art: Anna Makarova / Mediazona

At the end of June 2013, Vladimir Putin signed a law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” among children. Since then, deputies, officials, public and religious figures, as well as other people making important political decisions in Russia, have been actively speaking out against the LGBTQ+ community. After the start of the war in Ukraine, repression intensified: last year, “LGBT propaganda” was banned among adults, and in July of this year, the authorities introduced a complete ban on “medical interventions” related to transgender transition and legal change of the gender marker. Now, the Supreme Court has declared the “international LGBT movement” an “extremist organization.” Mediazona recalls what, over the years, Putin and other high ranking Russians said about LGBTQ+ rights in Russia.

2013. The law about LGBTQ+ “propaganda” among minors

Vladimir Putin in an Associated Press interview:

“We don’t have laws targeted against people with a non-traditional sexual orientation. Just now, when you said it, you are creating a sort of illusion in millions of viewers that we have laws like that. But there are no laws like that in Russia. A law about the propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation among minors was adopted in Russia, but these two things are completely different.”

State Duma deputy Iosif Kobzon in support of the “propaganda” ban:

“People can have non-traditional sex if they like to, but there is no need to create a loud campaign out of all of this.”

Chairman of Russia's State Duma Sergei Naryshkin speaking at the PACE:

“We have a lot of accomplished people whose orientation in non-traditional. They are successful in business, in art, in any creative field... They have a right to relax and to do so in comfort... in Moscow and other Russian cities. There are a lot so-called gay clubs. I’ve never been, but witnesses say it’s very good and comfortable there, these people are having a good time.”

State Duma deputy and Moscow mayoral candidate Mikhail Degtyarev:

“We are thinking about a proposal for voluntary anonymous consultations with a psychologist, psychotherapist, or sexologist. Many homosexuals want to return to normal life—to become heterosexuals.”

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov:

“We do not discriminate against anyone, we do not want discrimination to occur in the opposite direction, when one group of citizens gets the right to aggressively promote their values, which are at odds with the majority of members of society, moreover—imposing them on children.”

2014. LGBTQ+ rights discussion before and after the Olympics held in Russia

Vladimir Putin on the lack of infringement of LGBTQ+ rights in Russia:

“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that there is no criminal liability for non-traditional orientation in Russia, unlike more than a third of the world’s states.”

First deputy head of the State Duma committee on family, women and children Olga Batalina on Conchita Wurst’s victory at the 2014 Eurovision:

“Propaganda of non-traditional culture, including gay culture, is carried out aggressively, forcefully, and it’s doing its job: many countries, including the ones that have been very conservative and carefully preserving their traditions until recently, gave the highest points to the bearded Conchita Wurst, thereby defining her as their moral a guide and role model for young people. This is a very serious signal on how to achieve success in modern Europe.”

State Duma deputy Elena Mizulina defends the ban on LGBTQ+ “propaganda” among minors:

“Same-sex couples will want to raise children, which means they are interested in orphanhood and development of reproductive technologies. Meanwhile, among the second generation of test-tube-babies, the prevalence of infertility is increasing, which means this is a path to degeneration.”

Russian Railroads head Vladimir Yakunin on the “information war, in which smearing the Olympics plays an important role”:

“Back in Soviet times, minorities were understood as religious, national groups that really had a difficult time. Today there is only one minority left: the sexual one, and I strongly disagree when I am being forced to admit that such relationships are natural and suitable. Never will two lesbians or two homosexuals produce a child.”

2015. Stickers on social media as a threat to “traditional values”

Vladimir Putin in a CBS and PBS interview:

“I believe that there can be no criminal prosecution or any other persecution or infringement of people’s rights based on nationality, ethnicity, or sexual orientation in the modern world. This should be absolutely out of the question. <…> I simply don’t see any infringement of people of non-traditional sexual orientation here.”

Senator Valery Ryazansky on his complaint to Facebook about the Pride stickers dedicated to LGBT families:

“The concept for the development of family policy clearly expresses our country’s position in relation to same-sex families. Neither our faith, nor our traditional values allow us to agree to legalize same-sex marriage in Russia: a child should have a father and a mother, and not two dads or two mothers.”

State Duma deputy Ivan Nikitchuk about his proposal to punish people for coming out:

“Since in a biological sense non-reproduction is ultimately the same as death, homosexuality is a mortal threat to all humanity.”

Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate department for the relations between Church and society, archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin:

“When 'family planning' means either contraception or the idea of 'childfree', or some kind of same-sex 'marriage', this is all a death cult. All these condoms, all these means to make the family small are signs of social suicide.”

Art: Anna Makarova / Mediazona

2016. “Orthodox worldview” against ballroom dances

Pskov region attorney general Sergei Belov on Russians with an “Orthodox worldview” who do not accept euthanasia and “same-sex marriage”:

“Our mentality and our specific character lie in the fact that we have a certain, I would say, Orthodox consciousness, Orthodox worldview, even among those who do not believe in God. First: Russia, or at least the Russian Orthodox Church, will never recognize euthanasia—murder on request, just so that you understand. Now in Holland there is even euthanasia of children. Second: Russian Orthodox Church will never, under any circumstances, recognize same-sex marriage. Here, I think, a conflict may arise when the European Court of Human Rights makes some decisions that go against, among other things, our legislation, our ideology in this sense.”

Head of the St. Petersburg People's Council Anatoly Artyuch on a gay couple in an IKEA photo competition:

“If they do not remove such an action, then the entire company will be recognised as violating the foundations and traditions, the national security strategy of Russia. This organisation will be recognized as a foreign agent destroying our country. We will block their activities completely.”

Volgograd deputy mayor Anatoly Omelchenko on students of a sports school who are participating in competitive ballroom dancing:

“These are some kind of same-sex creatures who are wiggling their bums. Girls are fine, but boys... It’s not that far from homosexuality.”

St. Petersburg Duma deputy Vitaly Milonov on LGBTQ+ rights, if he was appointed an ombudsman:

“LGBT have no rights. Their rights are not included in the socially significant list of protected values in our country. The so-called perverts have all the rights that they have as people, citizens of our country, but they are not included in some extended top list. We will remove them forever from the list of human rights issues in our country.”

2017. Novaya Gazeta investigates murders of gay men in Chechnya

Vladimir Putin in an interview with director Oliver Stone:

“I can tell you that as the head of state today, I believe that it is my responsibility to protect traditional values and family values. <…> But this does not mean that persecution of anyone is possible.”

Head of the Ministry's of Internal Affairs department on combating paedophilia Sergei Alabin:

“Personally, I believe that administrative measures are ineffective. If this is elevated to the rank of criminal liability, then we will save our generation, which should not grow up focused on paedophilia and non-traditional relationships.”

Alvi Karimov, spokesman for the Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, answering the Novaya Gazeta investigation on persecution and murders of gay men in Chechnya:

“You cannot detain and oppress someone who simply doesn’t exist in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, law enforcement agencies wouldn’t have any worries with them, since their relatives themselves would send them to a place from which there’s no return.”

State Duma deputy from Chechnya Magomed Selimkhanov:

“There are no gays in Chechnya, so there’s no particular treatment for them. Personally, I think their place is six feet under.”

President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov on the Novaya Gazeta investigation:

“The best way to lead a healthy lifestyle is the right orientation... The Almighty created us as men, women, animals. And where is it written in religion or anywhere that you should marry a cat?”

2018. Calls to recognise homosexuality as an illness and its comparison with paedophilia

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov:

“I would like to remind you once again that we have repeatedly stated: we do not have any persecution for this or that orientation in this or that area, including orientation in the LGBT field. The only thing we don’t want and what our law prohibits is to impose such an orientation on minor citizens of the Russian Federation, nothing more.”

Former State Duma deputy Roman Khudyakov on homosexuality being a mental illness:

“Just 20 years ago in Russia this phenomenon was considered a mental disorder. But in the mid-90s, first the WHO and then Russia excluded homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses. There were no studies, we simply agreed with the sentiments of Western organisations. Nevertheless, today, both in Russia and in other countries, there are enough professional psychiatrists who consider homosexuality a mental disorder. If this is an illness, it is clear that such people will not be able to teach in schools and universities. There will be restrictions on driving different types of vehicles. In addition, they will not be able to be elected to the legislative and executive branches or hold positions as judges.”

Tyumen city duma deputy Igor Raksha on the necessity to dress children in military uniforms in order to protect them from “rainbow columns”:

“Dressing children in uniform is not showing off, it is a continuation of the tradition of our grandfathers’ memory. When teenagers are imbued with this outfit or watching the formations and songs at school, this all very seriously affects the ideological upbringing of the child. Otherwise, someone will think of dressing the children in rainbow hats, giving them rainbow balls, and dragging them into their columns. Let the children grow up to be patriots.”

Presidential candidate from the Russian All-People's Council Sergei Baburin:

“We must teach people from childhood that they must live in an atmosphere of honesty, dignity, and decency. And they tell us: let’s cultivate same-sex families, let’s equate same-sex marriages and families. The murder of the family is what happened in the West under the banner of tolerance; we must not allow this infection to reach us.”

Deputy speaker of the State Duma Igor Lebedev on the need to ban propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia, but it's worth distinguishing between the two:

“Tolerance towards paedophiles is not the same as tolerance towards homosexuals or, for example, some masochists and coprophagists. There’s no need to promote all this nasty stuff, but—unlike paedophiles—we’re not talking about criminals.”

Chairman of the State Duma committee on international affairs Leonid Slutsky:

“LGBT is not only a significant component of European life that is incomprehensible to us, but also a reason for provocations.”

2019. Reflections on punishment for same-sex intercourse

Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Osaka:

“Nowadays, there are all kinds of things... Six or five genders have been invented. Transformers, trans... I don’t even understand all that. Let them all be good and healthy. But the problem is that this part of society quite aggressively imposes its point of view on the overwhelming majority.”

Representative of the main directorate for political-military affairs of the Russian Armed Forces Rustem Klupov:

“There are no examples of sodomy in the Russian army, this is a tradition that has been tested over the years... It does not exist in regard to sexual abuse and same-sex relations in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. This, to put it mildly, is not welcomed, but to put it harshly, it is despised and can become a reason for serious hazing towards a homosexual.”

Chairman of the Patriarchal commission on family issues, protection of motherhood and childhood, archpriest Dimitry Smirnov, on the fight against domestic violence (commenting a Ryazan priest beating of his wife):

“On TV, it’s all domestic violence, domestic violence... The family is a refuge for everyone. For some reason, no one considers murder on a tram, violence on a trolleybus. They want to create a structure that, without trial or investigation, will enter a family, ruin it, take away children and give them to homosexuals. This is the ultimate goal, which is already being realised in both America and Belgium. Fairs are organized for women who, with the help of surrogacy, are now just openly selling them. They want to do the same here.”

head of the State Duma committee on family Tamara Pletneva in a TV interview, answering a question about punishment for same-sex intercourse:

“Well, Tchaikovsky was one of those, too. But he hid it and was ashamed by it. Why should he be punished criminally? He’s ill. He needs... Treat him.”

2020. The hunt for flags and Rainbow ice cream

Vladimir Putin on proposed amendments to the Constitution that a family is a union of a man and a woman (those amendments were in fact adopted):

“Family, you said, is a union of a man and a woman. What if this is an incomplete family? We need to clarify some things. Marriage is a union of a man and a woman, with family it’s a little different. But the idea itself is correct and should be supported, you just need to think about what wording to use and where.”

Chairwoman of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko
on the amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage:

“For Russia, a family is more than just a family... And we would really like this foundation of our society to not disappear, so that future generations perceive marriage as a union of a man and a woman... I support the amendment, I believe that it is a fundamental addition, a supporting addition, preservation of our societal foundations.”

Omsk region governor Alexander Burkov on the stream of professionals from Europe after the ban on same-sex marriage:

“What's happening in Europe today? In schools, from the early grades, they begin to explain that same-sex marriage is good. In Europe, that is good. And those people who live in Europe today, according to traditional family values, like in Russia, where will they go tomorrow? Those who do not agree with what is pounded into their heads and imposed on their children. They will go to Russia. And educated people, professionals will go.”

Head of the commission on protection of state sovereignty and countering interference in internal affairs of the Federal Council Andrei Klimov on LGBT flags at the US and UK embassies in Moscow:

“Say, an American hung an LGBT flag in the window of his Moscow apartment: this is a private story. But in this case, we are talking about a state facility of two countries at once, which also have representation in the UN Security Council! At the same time, they behave in such an undignified manner, defiantly and boorishly violating the traditions of the country of they are in. And with signs of violations of an administrative and even criminal nature. Thank God that the overwhelming majority of our people are healthier in a moral and psychological sense than those who gave the go-ahead for hanging LGBT flags at the US and British embassies.”

Head of the Russian Women's Union Ekaterina Lakhova on “gay propaganda” in an advert for Rainbow ice cream:

“Today, we have billboards, for example, that display rainbow, beautiful colours. It seems to be unnoticeable, with beautiful words. Or they advertise ice cream, which is also called Rainbow. This is indirect, but it makes our children get used to the colour, to the flag that, among others, was put out by this embassy.” (Lakhova is referring to the LGBT flag on the US Embassy.)

2021. Campaigns against transgender people and calls to recognise LGBTQ+ as extremism

Vladimir Putin on what “in some Western countries the discussion about rights of men and women turned into”:

“Advocates of new approaches go so far as they want to abolish these very concepts. People who dare to say that men and women still exist as a biological fact are almost ostracized. <...> Not to mention the simply monstrous fact that children today are taught from a young age that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa. In fact, they are impose on kids the choice supposedly available to everyone. They impose it, removing parents from this, forcing the child to make decisions that could ruin his life. And no one even consults with child psychologists: in general, is a child at some age capable of making a decision like this or not? Let's call a spade a spade: This simply verges on crimes against humanity under the banner of progress.”

Art: Anna Makarova / Mediazona

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on emoji representing pregnant transgender men and non-binary people:

“By introducing a new emoji, Twitter is trying to teach its audience the ‘new normal’ of a mother who identifies as a man. Does anyone else have any doubts about what kind of fiery Gehenna pseudo-values are pushing us into? The destruction of the concept of family and marriage, and in general, virtue and vice, good and evil. A global substitution of concepts is taking place.”

Chairman of the commission for the protection of children from destructive content at Roskomnadzor Andrei Tsyganov on the need to recognize “LGBT ideology” as “extremism”:

“Of course, it is necessary to expand the rights of law enforcement, we have repeatedly proposed this. All kinds of LGBT ideologies, radical feminism, all these furries, child free... they, of course, must be recognized at least as extremism—extremist ideology—in order to free up the hands of our law enforcers, Roskomnadzor, and so on.”

State Duma deputy, skating Olympic champion Svetlana Zhurova on
Laurel Hubbard, the first transgender weightlifter, to participate in the Olympics:

“It horrifies me how things that have always been unnatural for human nature are becoming the norm today. I don’t deny the presence of a medical and psychological component when a man wants to become a woman and vice versa, but to make this a norm for everyone and popularise it through the Olympic Games, in my opinion, is overkill.”

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview with Russia 24 TV channel:

“Americans still didn't join the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. They only signed the covenant, which the West is trying to push. And recently, with an emphasis on the most ugly interpretations of these rights, including transgender people and other abnormal ideas that contradict nature itself.”

2022. Start of the war in Ukraine and a harder line

Vladimir Putin, during the signing ceremony for the annexation of Ukrainian territories:

“Do we really want, here, in our country, in Russia, instead of ‘mum’ and ‘dad’, to have ‘parent No. 1’, ‘parent No. 2’, ‘No. 3’? Have they gone completely insane? Do we really want... it drilled into children in our schools... that there are supposedly genders besides women and men, and [children to be] offered the chance to undergo sex change operations? ... We have a different future, our own future.”

Vyacheslav Volodin on the necessity of a ban on “propaganda of non-traditional values”:

“With the withdrawal from the Council of Europe, demands to legalize same-sex marriage in Russia became a thing of the past. Attempts to impose alien values on our society have failed. It is correct to introduce a ban on the propaganda of non-traditional values.”

State Duma deputy Nina Ostanina on criminal liability for “propaganda of non-traditional values”:

“I think it’s time to talk here about amendments to the Criminal Code of Russia. Propaganda of non-traditional values is reaching unimaginable proportions, so we will discuss toughening the punishment for this kind of propaganda.”

Head of the Presidential council for civil society and human rights Valery Fadeev:

“We see how everything turns into a farce. LGBT, child free, euthanasia is an ideology of death, not development and life. This is a clear sign of the grave degradation of Western ideology that propelled the world. We have no choice but to look for new ideologies.”

Children's ombudswoman for the Moscow region Ksenia Mishonova on LGBTQ+ themes in books and movies for minors:

“If there really were books with LGBT characters in bookstores, then they definitely have no place there. The law states quite clearly what exactly is meant by promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships and gender reassignment. And I have already repeatedly expressed my position that this should be rooted out mercilessly from children’s textbooks, books, cartoons, films, comic books and so on. I ask everyone to be more attentive, to signal about works in which texts may be perceived ambiguously, so that experts can analyse them for compliance with the law.”

2023. In the lead-up to designating LGBTQ+ and “extremist orgainsation”

Vladimir Putin, in his annual address to the Federal Assembly:

“Adult people can do as they please. We in Russia have always seen it that way and always will: no one is going to intrude into other people’s private lives, and we are not going to do it, either. But here is what I would like to tell them: forgive me, but look at the holy scripture and the main books of other world religions. They say it all, including that family is the union of a man and a woman, but these sacred texts are now being questioned.”

Mufti of Chechnya Salakh Mezhiev on Russian Muslims in Ukraine who are fighting Satanism:

“The special military operation for Muslims of the Russian Federation is a holy jihad, because we are fighting against the collective West, which brings evil, evil spirits, and Satanism not only to Muslims, but to all of humanity. People who justify burning the Holy Quran justify insulting the honour of our Prophet Muhammad. People who say that LGBT is a law, that such a law must be passed—these people are Satanists. They bring evil not only to Muslims, they bring evil against all humanity. Russia is confronting this evil, and this is a holy war.”

Patriarch Kirill on Russia's war “for human souls”:

“The war in which Russia is involved today is a war, first of all, for human souls, for the right to preserve one’s spiritual and cultural identity. We don’t want to live the way they live. We do not want to legalize ‘marriages’ between people of the same sex. We do not want moral principles to be destroyed from childhood through ‘sex education’. That is why we, as a civilization, challenge the West.”

Editor: Maria Klimova

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