Nearly 78% of Russian voters have voiced 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.
On Wednesday, July 1, Russia’s Central Election Commission released preliminary results from a week-long referendum. As stated in the findings, a large proportion of Russian voters backed proposed changes which lists “defence of the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman”.
Ahead of the vote, the Russian LGBT Network stated, “[We are] 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.”
Under the proposed legislative changes, Putin can extend his presidential term until 2036, rather than leave office in 2024. During his time in the position, he has introduced an anti-LGBT+ ‘propaganda law’, which the ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) described as having a “chilling effect on groups working for LGBT persons.”
This is the first time since 1993 that Russia has considered amending the Constitution. On Monday, February 2, Putin submitted a 24 page document outlining the proposed changes, including outlawing same-sex marriage, a “defence of historical truth” regarding the Soviet’s role in World War 2, and strongly affirming the countries “Faith in God.”
Political analyst, Konstantin Kalachev, told BBC Russia, “It turns out that our forefathers gave us faith in God and the ideas of communism. Putin is a mirror for the majority of Russians.”
Following Putin’s submission of amendments, political scientist Grigory Golosov said, “The constitution we have indicates that the state should be free of ideology. So I think these changes are inappropriate.”
Against state-wide discrimination, the LGBT+ community are refusing to be treated as invisible by holding a unique Pride celebration. Last week, queer people gathered outside the US Embassy in Moscow, where a rainbow flag was displayed in defiance of backlash from Russian lawmakers and right-wing groups.
In a released statement, the US Embassy wrote, “June is Pride Month and we celebrate that everyone deserves to live a life free from hatred, prejudice, and persecution. As Ambassador Sullivan has said, ‘LGBTI rights are human rights. And human rights are universal. It’s as simple as that’.”
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