How Homophobia Can Boost Your Career
Published: January 17, 2014 (Issue # 1793)
Popular actor and director Ivan Okhlobystin made headlines in December when he suggested that Russia should solve its "homosexual problem" by burning all gay people alive.
Notably, neither the Russian Orthodox Church nor the Kremlin condemned the statement. In addition, the Prosecutor General's Office showed no interest in charging him with extremism or inciting hatred toward people based on their membership in a social group — crimes that it has vigorously prosecuted in cases not involving gays.
Okhlobystin, a former Russian Orthodox priest who briefly flirted with the idea of running against Vladimir Putin for president in 2011, has not retracted or apologized for his remarks.
But he seems to have softened his position somewhat over the New Year holidays. Instead of killing homosexuals, Okhlobystin now seems content with just imprisoning them. Last week, he wrote an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, asking him to return a Soviet-era anti-sodomy law that would carry a maximum five-year sentence for all homosexuals.
In his open letter to Putin, Okhlobystin wrote that the gay propaganda law that Putin signed in June does not go far enough to battle "gay fascism." He has defined this fascism as a powerful and well-financed Western propaganda campaign that attempts to legitimize homosexuality and corrupt Russia's traditional foundations.
For added emphasis, Okhlobystin wrote that since the homosexual lifestyle is offensive to Orthodox believers, gays violate another law that Putin signed in July — "offending the religious feelings of others," which carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.
If that weren't enough to convince Putin to imprison all homosexuals, Okhlobystin wrote, "Since sodomites can't have their own children … [they] will be forced to increase their ranks by seducing and depraving straight kids."
In response, pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov wrote in a blog last week that it is not homosexuals' fault but their great misfortune that they are attracted to the same sex. Russians should show mercy toward them and try "to cure them of their disease, not send them to prison."
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