Recent laws determined by Vladimir Putin and the Russian Government restrict LGBT human rights despite the decriminalization of homosexuality in the constitution in 1993 and the removal of the term from the list of psychological disorders in 1999.
Since the ban on 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors' bill was signed into law, the Russian Government has stigmatised LGBT people and prompted a devastating rise in homophobic acts of violence, since there exists no law in the current Russian legislation which outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation, these hate crimes seldom receive the deserved punishment.
The flood of anti-gay legislation continues with the prohibition of adoption rights to same-sex couples and a more recent bill which proposes stripping Russia's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parents of their children. Scheduled to go to vote in February 2014, the bill was momentarily withdrawn by a member of the ruling United Russian Party, only to be resubmitted to the State Duma after the Sochi Olympics concluded. The nature of this bill is yet to be determined.
There is considerable speculation of the motives behind Putin's oppressive political regime. With the Russian economy in stagnation and the fear of loss of presidential popularity, in order to consolidate political power, Putin and his political allies in the Orthodox church are putting to work familiar totalitarian campaigns that appeal to the voting population’s prejudices and fears by legally marginalizing minority groups and criminalizing their behaviour.
Russian members of the LGBT community who are naturally born equal are socially ostracized from their community through the law, which institutionally devalues their personhood. Putin's government and it’s latest emphasis on 'patriotism' and the 'traditional family’ rubric together with it's despicable view of the Western world's liberalism, has heightened the homophobic atmosphere and casually stripped LGBT people of their basic human rights.
This photo-essay is a collection of visual biographies, accompanied by textual testimonials; each represents a smaller part of the whole constellation of those directly affected by Putin’s oppressive regime. The current political climate in Russia means those dissenters and radicals who contend the current repressive structures of Putin’s government are immediately criminalized and at risk of imprisonment. This has most recently been seen with the arrest and detention of Nadia Tolokonnikova of formed band Pussy Riot, who on August 17, 2012 was arrested and locked up for hooliganism.
Most disheartening about the current situation in Russia is the regression to a more intolerant and inequitable social arrangement in a country that once decriminalized homosexuality and represented hope for the progress of its population.
click to view the complete set of images in the archive