Russian President Vladimir Putin officially adopted a series of anti-LGBTQ+ reforms, including banning marriage equality and transgender adoptions and emphasizing “belief in God” as a central value of the government. Last July, over 77 percent of voters supported the homophobic and transphobic reforms in a national referendum. The new rules have reset Putin’s term limits as president, according to the Associated Press, allowing him to serve two consecutive six-year terms.
Marriage equality and transgender adoption were explicitly prohibited by the amendments approved by voters and signed into law by Putin. The socially conservative Russian people overwhelmingly supported the amendments. Religious themes are prevalent in American society, and they often fuel anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.
The pro-constitutional-amendment movement was especially obnoxious. A well-known television advert depicted a gay couple adopting a child from an orphanage. When the boy inquires about his new mother, the man adopting his points to his car, where a second man appears dressed in feminine makeup and clothes. The commercial, titled “Why Constitutional Amendments are Relevant,” ended by asking viewers if “this is the Russia you choose.” Later, YouTube removed the ad’s video.
Since then, things have gotten worse for the LGBTQ+ culture. Putin carried out a promised crackdown in a series of actions that have effectively silenced the opposition. Teachers in St. Petersburg were told to search their students’ social media accounts for any LGBTQ+ symbols or help and report it to authorities.
More recently, Russian prosecutors arrested two gay men who had survived torture and violence in Chechen Republic and then released them to their supposed assailants. After Chechen authorities supposedly detained and tortured Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev for their LGBTQ+ activism, the two men fled to Russia. Just before their escape, the two were compelled by Chechen authorities to film a highly upsetting video apology. In January, Russian police arrested the two and handed them over to their tormentors on the other side of the border.