A report by the Advocate alleges that St Petersburg’s ban on so-called homosexual propaganda may have been inspired by Scott Lively, an American evangelical currently being sued for inciting Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.
Ironically, the law Russia’s Conservative Party is using to flex its cultural differences was born not in the Motherland, but in the U.S.
Pouncing on antigay momentum around the 2006 ban on the Moscow Pride parade, American evangelist Scott Lively wrote a letter to the Russian people after completing a speaking tour in the country. Through his speaking engagements, Lively closely allied himself with the Russian Orthodox church and his influence is still evident. Many will remember Lively as the origin of what became Uganda’s Bill 18, also known as the notorious “kill the gays” bill. In his letter, Lively elaborated that, “The purpose of my visit was to bring a warning about the homosexual political movement which has done much damage to my country and which has now taken root in Russia. 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.” Through his tour, Lively closely allied himself with the Russian Orthodoxy and presented its adherents with a road map to protect themselves from what they saw as gay propaganda.
Of the several steps he lays out, the third is this: “Criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality. My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don’t want it. However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never [be] publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage ‘gay pride’ parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.” Play by play, the Russian Orthodoxy has taken Lively’s blueprint and is acting swiftly on his urging “to protect their country from the gay movement.”
The Advocate’s detailed piece goes on to chart how this idea found fertile ground in the Russian political landscape which was then shifting toward the hard right, and is particularly damning of the Russian Orthodox church that, it says, has been hand-picking officials like St. Petersburg governor Georgiy Poltavchenko in order to steer Russia toward a more hard-right religious ethos.
The piece is also keen to point out that the gay gag rule has met with internal challenges and that not all lawmakers and officials have capitulated to anti-gay sentiment.
A national gay gag rule has now been introduced in the Russian Duma, so these revelations are particularly timely.
As mentioned above, Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries is currently being sued by The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) alleging that Lively’s involvement in Uganda’s push to further criminalize its LGBT citizen’s identities constitutes persecution. This is being levied under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) that allows foreign victims of human rights abuses to seek remedy in the American courts.