Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially signed into his country’s law a ban on same-sex marriage. Additional rules also reset the term limits of his presidency, meaning he can now serve two more terms of six years in office.
The disturbing move for Russia’s LGBTQ+ community is part of a larger group of constitutional reforms which were voted in by the public on July 1, 2020. A week-long referendum saw nearly 78% of Russian voters voice their support for amendments defining marriage as between a man and woman in the constitution, as well as approving the extension of Vladimir Putin’s presidential term.
Putin will also have a lifetime immunity from prosecution, while the country will have a “belief in God” as a core value. New laws also include a “defence of historical truth” regarding the Russia’s role in World War 2.
At the time of the referendum, the Russian LGBT Network said that the vote to ban same-sex marriage was a smoke screen in order to get the public to vote for further political power for Putin. They stated they were “convinced that the main purpose of adopting a series of amendments to the constitution is to keep in power the current government and Russian President. We consider other constitutional changes artificial to gain people’s attention.”
Following the referendum, Max Olenichev from the LGBTQ+ support group, Coming Out, shared the damage it could do; “LGBT people will be left behind. Our society really looks up to what the government does, so any kinds of public actions promoting homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, many people may perceive as a call for action. And we believe that there will be more hate speech and hate crimes, and that LGBT people will suffer more violence.”
This is just the latest in the country’s attack against the LGBTQ+ community. In March, the European Union imposed sanctions on two Russian officials accused of persecuting LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya. Aiub Vakhaevich Kataev, a senior official at the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry in Chechnya, and Abuzaid Dzhandarovich Vismuradov, deputy prime minister of the region and commander of a special security unit, had their assets frozen and were subjected to a travel ban within the EU.
With Putin now officially signing the ban into law, life for the LGBTQ+ community in Russia has just become even more difficult.
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