Russia and Gay Propaganda

The Russian federal law “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values” was signed into law on the 30th of June 2013 by President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin after a unanimous vote (436 -0) in favour (bar one abstention) from the State Duma (The lower house of the Russian parliament).

“I have sincere contempt for the Duma’s deputies. All, including the so-called opposition. You have now brought fascism to my country,” – Yelena Kostyachenko, Russian journalist

The Russian government claims that the ban on propaganda to stop homosexuality as being something normal is to preserve “traditional family values” among their population.

The anti-propaganda laws charge fines of up to 5,000 Rubles (roughly US$156) for promoting anything with homosexual content directed at minors – “directed at forming a nontraditional sexual set-up). It also applies to anyone who states that homosexual and heterosexual relationships should be equal, or even that the individuals deserve to be treated equally, as well as to anyone who distributes anything that speaks positively about homosexuality. The fines can go up to 100,000 Rubles (£1,975) for anyone who disseminates “propaganda” online or through the official media. Foreigners who enter Russia do not face long term jail time; but it is still up to 15 days and includes deportation, and they may also be fined the 100,000 Rubles. Organisations can be fined 1 million Rubles and have all activity ceased for up to 90 days.

The bill was criticised of being poorly defined- and I genuinely cannot find anything stating how the bill defines propaganda in any official capacity- but despite this obvious and enormous flaw, Putin had promised to sign it in advance of it passing through the Duma.

“We are talking about protecting children from the respective information” – Vladimir V. Putin

Putin denied that the bill was anti-homosexual, and instead claimed that it was about “protecting children”. The Russian government claims that legalising gay marriage in other countries is a matter effecting those countries’ national security- effectively stating that gay spouses all suddenly become terrorists.

Putin also put into law a bill saying that anyone who offends religious observers can be jailed and fined. This would, of course, include homosexuals when extremist members of certain religious groups are concerned- an obvious example being the Westboro Baptist Church, who picket the funeral of anyone they believe to be homosexual and can reach the grave of, and celebrate their deaths. The bill essentially would mean that in a country with a high propensity for extremist attitudes about whether gay people even deserve to live, LGBT people could essentially be fined for being alive if this bill were to be passed there instead.

This bill was intended to punish actions “demonstrating disrespect to society and done with the goal of offending the believers’ religious feelings”. You can be given up to 3 years in jail for insulting a religious believer in  Russia; although being able to insult someone unlimitedly is obviously not a good thing, to be arrested for insulting someone once of a specific group is a very blatant breaking of the human rights declaration that Russia signed when joining the UN.

“The government is using these instincts – homophobia, xenophobia – to justify its policies against an independent civil society. They are making enemies out of us – not just LGBT society, but any group in society that doesn’t agree with their current politics.” – Igor Kochetkov, Russian LGBT Rights Activist

This isn’t just a reflection of a strange government order, but of a strange society. 45% of Russian people genuinely believe that homosexuality is caused by being seduced into it by propaganda and 47% believe that they do not deserve equal rights to straight people. Although they should have a right to their own culture and their own views on social issues, it should not be at the expense of understanding the science of the issue (which is that people are not drawn in by propaganda, but by their own genetics and by experiences during their formative years). It also makes no sense that the law is supposedly about “protecting children” but it is illegal to publish material speaking out for homosexual rights to adults, displaying blatant hypocrisy and an inability to form a decent justification, or a high level of condescension (essentially stating that all Russians are forever children).

The bill has given the Russian Orthodox Church unprecedented power, and this seems almost to be Putin’s tactic to maintain his power within Russia- to lean on the church as heavily as possible and make attacks on the church illegal so that attacks on him can be made illegal.

“People have become more closed, more depressed, less out than they were. The law makes our activity more difficult, because we never know when the red button will be pressed… If I were to walk along the corridors of my school holding hands with my husband, that would be considered a promotion of non-traditional family values. I won’t be fired because I’m out and gay and promoting non-traditional family values at school. Then there would be a court case. All the authorities like to say at international high-level meetings that there is no discrimination in Russia. So it would be on disciplinary stuff: if I forget my lesson plan or I’m five minutes late to class.” – Konstantin Yablotsky, an organiser of the Open Games

Yablotsky has talked about how the coverage of the Olympic Sochi games and the Open Games together actually worsened LGBT rights in Russia. There was a lot of initial international coverage about the act, with many calls to not attend the games. In interviews, Yablotsky would make it clear that the Open Games were not about protest, or following any political ideology, but about promoting a healthy lifestyle and peaceful dialogue with authorities. However, this somehow got misinterpreted as being a protest, and was reported as such internationally. With the international community looking at the games as being a protest against the government full of LGBT propaganda, it was hardly a surprise that the Russian authorities cracked down so hard on them. Many venues for the Open Games (a sports event like the Olympics but intended for LGBT athletes) cancelled reservations at the last minute, and the police ordered many others to be evacuated because of a fictitious terrorist threat. Generally, outside movements are a good help for social movements, as long as they carefully think through the repercussions of what they are doing. Outsiders need to be careful that they do not portray the situation as LGBT individuals deliberately opposing the state in anyway which is not directly for their own safety and the country’s wellbeing, and merely take the actual concerns of the individuals into account.

There is now a clearer idea of how the law is being enforced. Activists at Askhangelsk and Kazan have been arrested for holding signs at rallies, a newspaper in Khabarovsk was fined for publishing an interview with a teacher who was fired for being gay, a manufacturer of a children’s game that portrayed gay couples was fined, and children’s author Lyudmila Ulitskaya is being investigated because her book series promote homosexuality.

It has also facilitated homophobia; a St Petersburg gay march were showered in sickening gas, and many firms refuse to host LGBT events or groups due to fears of legal action against them. The liberal political opposition feel unable (justifiedly) to associate themselves with giving the LGBT community more rights, even to just basic freedom of speech, and journalists can’t cover the results of the ban. Several teachers have been fired for being openly gay, even if they don’t mention this to their students. Just using the word “gay” is often seen as propaganda. Drag artists have been attacked, even when they are straight and cis-gendered, with significant numbers of audience members ending up hospitalised. Radical Orthodox group, God’s Will, seeks to out professionals who are gay, and force companies to fire them (which is indisputably stupid as if they have to seek them out they are clearly not distributing propaganda about it, and are not posing any threats at all, even if saying you’re homosexual is seen as a threat, to traditional family values).

Groups like Occupy Paedophilia equate homosexuality to pedophilia.

“We [LGBT people] are treated as subhuman, with no civil or human rights. We are social non-entities, and we are even considered diseased and dangerous to society,” – Yulianna Prosvirnina, a drag king, who had her performance interrupted and 4 of her audience members hospitalised.

A Russian priest denounced the football world cup team’s cleats as being a “homosexual abomination”. The Jewish Autonomous Oblast, in Russia’s far east, felt the need to ask the Kremlin to confirm that their flag, featuring a rainbow, is not homosexual propaganda.

LGBT awareness events can be shut down if police find there to be anyone under the age of eighteen attending, and local authorities refuse permits for most types of gatherings.  LGBT rights are further hindered in Russia, as many activists have emigrated to get away from the harsh law.

“We used to do a lot of film screenings as a form of education, but now we can’t show a film unless it gets a certificate from the state confirming that it can be publicly shown. A lot of smaller places that could show films will not allow it in their facilities anymore. Police will attend some our events to check passports.” – Andrei Obolensky, chairman of the Rainbow Association, and LGBT rights group.

Teenagers’ mental healths have been effected as even discussing the possibility that they might not be heterosexual has effectively been outlawed, and they can’t find any sorts of support groups if they decide that they’re not. Teenagers unsure of their sexual identity have become outcasts within their own society. This is especially evident after a series of hate-groups used social media to lure gay teenagers into meeting them and then physically assaulted them- photos of the attacks are then shared on social media, and often receive many ‘likes’ with little police intervention. The ban is being applied without any considerations for child protection, and that knowing the age of every user of each computer might be a little bit bad for safety reasons in a country known to be a source of child trafficking.  Teenage suicide rates are 3x the global average in Russia.

There is a double stigma for gay people who have contracted HIV. There have been parents who have said they wished they had got an adoption after their children said they were HIV positive in the past, who have been able to receive counselling, but that would not be available now.

The ban is really just a symptom of a much bigger problem in Russia- that anyone who has opinions against the president is slowly having their freedom of speech become more and more restricted. The government has been cracking down on anything that Putin thinks may effect constitutional order, defence or security, and to stop anyone who may pose a threat to his presidency speaking out, despite it being a “democratic” country.

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So Whose President Is Trump?

I just thought I’d get a certain set of things off my chest here. I know this isn’t the first time I’ve touched on this. I have seen plenty of analyses of which demographics voted most for each candidate, but none for which demographics will be most hit by his views.

So, welcome to my Inauguration special, I guess. It’s probably the only thing that’s welcome to most of those of you in the US today, in all honesty. If you want a distraction from the horror that is currently starting to unfold in the white house, you can have this, deliberately scheduled for that purpose. You can also have my complete lack of impartiality for a day, which is a rare thing on here.

Here is a list of people that Trump has been referenced as prejudiced against (and why) along with percentages of the population that are of that group:

  • Women as a whole, 157 million women, 50.8%
  • People of Mexican descent/ Mexican-Americans, 35.8 million people, 11.1%
  • People of African descent/ African-Americans, 13.2% of the population
  • People of Chinese descent/ Chinese-Americans/Asian-Americans, 19.4 million, 6.1%
  • People of Native American descent/Native Americans/ Native Hawaiians/ Native Alaskans. I know I am extrapolating from his actions and attitudes towards democrat senator Elizabeth Warren. I believe this is fair, especially when he mocked the very concept of Native American naming systems. (Not to mention that much of the US white perception is entirely wrong, based on baby naming sites which take random words, assign a random tribe or don’t even bother with that, and pretend they have an entirely different, and altogether just too long meaning.) 1.485% + 0.889% + 0.03% = 2.404%
  • Military veterans, 7.3%
  • Sexual assault victims, 17.7 million, 5.55%
  • LGBT people, Estimates say that there are 1.4 million transgender people in the US and that 25.6 million Americans experience at least some same sex attraction. In eyes of black and white, like Mr Trump’s, that would mean 25.6 million are lesbian or gay. 1.8% actually identify themselves as bisexual and 1.7% as lesbian or gay, so I will use these numbers, even if they are not the view of the US president, in all likelihood. This means 0.439% + 1.8% + 1.7% = 3.94%
  • The Poor. I don’t think I need to cite anything for this. It’s a proven thing that the very rich in the USofA have vested interest in maintaining their extremely unequal levels of wealth. Taxes will lower for the very rich. While there could be programs to maintain schemes such as Obamacare to help the very poorest afford healthcare, instead that money will either not be raised or will be spent building borders with a country which generates a substantial proportion of the USA’s wealth indirectly. The average health care bill for the most severe illnesses in the US is US$116,000, which as an annual earning would put you in the richest 1% of the US population. Only the richest 1% can afford to get sick with conditions like cancer in the USA. I’m not saying Hillary would have helped that, but she would have hurt it less. If we multiply the incidence rates of cancer annually (as a generic expensive healthcare bill) against those too poor to pay it we get against the four years of his term: 454.8 per 100,000 contract cancer annually, which is 0.4548%. Bearing in mind this is people which government policy is essentially massacring, and if any other organisation were doing it, it would be called genocide. 0.4548% x 99% x 4 = 0.018%
  • Illegal Immigrants. According to Trump himself, this is 11 million people. Let’s assume that none of these people are the most common source of illegal immigrants- people who stay a few nights over their papers and then leave. 3.45%
  •  Muslims. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that governments in the west who drum up terrorism as a serious threat to world security when it’s statistically de minimus to be killed in a terrorist attack (De Minimus is essentially the point where something is such a low chance of occurring even with its severity born in mind that it’s not even worth a slight thought toward), are willing to claim that an entire religion with only a vague connection are responsible. 3.3 million US Muslims, 1.03%
  • Disabled people. In countries with average lifespan over 70, most people can expect to spend 11.5% of their lifespan physically disabled. Meanwhile 26.2% have a mental illness in any given year. About 6% bear most of the weight of mental illness. Let’s take an average for this and let’s take this to assume that the average number of people who are disabled in any given year is 27.6%
  • My personal favourite, by which I mean, the one which sounds stupidest (and they all sound stupid, because they are): the population of Iowa. 0.97%
  • Anyone else that Trump has announced he hates since I scheduled this post.

I am not (separately) counting groups who get to choose the paths which got them attacked, however, this includes:

  • Many journalists
  • Barak Obama
  • Rosie O’Donnell
  • Marco Rubio
  • Hillary Clinton
  • People who support the use of vaccines (yes, that nonsense about how vaccines give people autism has now reached the presidential level). I am also aware that this should include anyone who has any knowledge of autism OR vaccines OR has ever been to a doctor in their lives, which should be a lot of people.

People Trump likes:

  • Women who don’t call him out on sexual harassment
  • His daughter, if she weren’t his daughter, in a sexual manner
  • Evangelical Christians (and not even many of them as most religious texts are about tolerance in all major religions and he definitely does not fit with that)
  • People whose education reaches no higher than a high school degree
  • People in very rural areas

Now for some maths!

The US population is 318.9 million people. First we need to work out what percentage are not effected by each of Trump’s prejudices. Then times that by the US population. That should be the total number of votes he received, if everyone was vaguely logical (and old enough to vote). I am making the assumption that unrelated groups are evenly spread, which is quite a large assumption  (eg the same proportion of women and men are gay).

Here is the list of percentages which are not part of any of the listed groups:

50.8%-> 49.2%, [11.1%, 13.2%, 6.1%, 2.404%, -> 67.2%] 7.3% -> 94.7%, 5.55%-> 94.45%, 3.94%-> 96.06% , 0.018%-> 99.982% , 3.45% -> 96.5% , 1.03% -> 98.97, 27.6% -> 72.4%, 0.97% -> 99.03%.

If maths makes your brain hurt, you can scroll past this to the arrow.

code: using a ~ means that I am rounding to the nearest person. I don’t think we should be cutting people in half for the sake of maths. “.” means that I am about to round. “;” means I don’t want to type that number again, please imagine I typed it out properly.

318,900,000 (318.9 million) x 0.492 (49.2%)= 156,898,800; x 0.672 = 105,435,993.6.

~105,435,994; x 0.947 = 99,847,886.318.

~99.847,886; x 0.9445 = 94,306,328.327.

~94,306,328; x  0.9606 = 90,590,658.6768.

~90,590,659; x 0.99982 = 90,574,352.358.

~90,574,352; x 0.965 = 87,404,249.68.

~87,404,250; x 0.9897 = 86,503,986.225.

~86,503,986; x 0.724 = 62,628,885.864.

~62,628,886; x 0.9903 = 62,021,385.8058.

62,021,385 people who Trump doesn’t hate.

Only 58% voted who had the right to, and only 75% of the US population is of voting age.

62,021,385 x 0.58 = 35,972,403.3.

~35,972,403; x 0.75 = 26,979,302.475.

-> 26,979,302 people who might have voted would not be actively targeted  by Trump being president. Trump won 61,900,651 votes in the popular vote.

This means that at least 34,921,349 people actively voted against their own interests. That’s more than the number who could have benefited from him being president who voted. 56.4% of all Trump votes make no sense.

The idea of democracy is that everyone votes for their own best interests. If a majority of people are, in a hypothetical society, wheat farmers, and they all vote selfishly for the party that proposes free school meals for the children of wheat farmers, then because of democracy, a majority of the population would benefit. If there’s a racist leader, and that’s clearly his main policy, and a majority of people aren’t racist, then the racist leader should never come into power. In the US, however, 10.95% of the entire population deliberately voted for an individual they knew would hurt 286,878,615 people’s civil freedoms (or they could have done if they opened up google’s calculator function and a search engine of their choice, or, alternatively, if they did not have access to that, which is entirely possible in such an unequal country, could have asked a friend to).

 

I’m not writing this to shame these people. The vast majority of Trump’s voters have poor education standards, and thus wouldn’t necessarily know how to manipulate the figures correctly. And it’s definitely not their fault that they were inevitably lied to along the line. I am writing this as an example of how important demographics are in showing how bad a seemingly democratically voted leader’s representation of a country can be when people in the system don’t exercise their right to vote in a sensible and considered manner, and why it is so important that we inform and educate people correctly.

2016 was a year where the most renowned democratic votes were full of lies and downright nonsense. If we don’t stop this immediately, people will end up voting their lives away to liars who have absolutely no empathy for anyone’s suffering. If we want to avoid another Hitler, another Mussolini, and another Stalin, we all need to seriously inform ourselves of the issues we mean to make people passionate about. Tyrants come into power when the people who have the power to say no don’t realise that they should, and in a democratic society, that is every single one of us. It is all of our duties to tell as many people as we reasonably can about the things about politicians’ views that really worry us, why they worry us, and above all, to make sure that we actually have some clue what we’re talking about. Because, let’s face it, if we all had a clue what we were doing and why, that 10.95% would not have voted Trump, and we would be looking towards the actual First Lady of the USofA today.

 

And my most important point: Good luck to the 90% (Well, technically, the 89.65%, but that’s not nearly so memorable). I’m sorry to say, you’ll need it.