Lenin spoke of Russia as the most free country in the world

flag-franceThe law against gay propaganda was passed in the Duma in final reading by 436 deputies. One abstained and none voted against. After the debates in January, many amendments were tabled and title modified, the word “homosexuality” replaced by “non-traditional sexual relations”. By law, a person risk a fine of € 100-125, a person holding public authority a fine of  € 1,000-1,250, a legal entity a fine of € 19,000 to 23,500. Penalties are more severe if this propaganda is carried out on Internet.  The law provides that legal  entities will be closed until 90 days. Foreigners will also face a fine of up to € 2,000, and may also be held 15 days and expeled. The delegate from the Kremlin for Human Rights, Vladimir Lukin, said feared how the law will be applied. “If it is applied with severity and without indiscriminately, this can make victims and lead to human tragedy” he said. According to a survey, 88% of Russians support the prohibition of homosexual propaganda. In addition, 54% of Russians believe that homosexuality should be punished. Recently, several cases of murder of people because of their homosexuality have been identified in the country.

The history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Russia and its historical antecedents (i.e., the Soviet Union, the Russian Empire) has largely been influenced by the political leanings and levels of liberalism or tolerance of the rulers. It has also been influenced by the historically prohibitive nature of Russian Orthodox religiosity regarding sexuality.

Homosexuality has been documented in Russia for centuries. Government attempts at preventing homosexual practices began in the 18th century, with Tsar Peter the Great banning homosexual relations in the armed forces in 1716, as a part of his attempt to modernise the country. In 1832 further laws were enacted criminalising certain sexual acts between two males, however an LGBT subculture developed in Russia during that century, with many significant Russians being openly homosexual or bisexual.

In 1917, the Russian Revolution saw the overthrow of the Tsarist government, and the subsequent foundation of the Russian SFSR, the world’s first socialist state, followed by the founding of the Soviet Union after the end of the civil war in 1922. The new Communist Party government eradicated the old laws regarding sexual relations, effectively legalising homosexual activity within Russia, although it remained illegal in other former territories of the Russian Empire. Under Lenin’s leadership, openly gay people were allowed to serve in government. In 1933, the Soviet government, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, recriminalised homosexual activity, most probably to improve the strained relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, who considered homosexuality sinful. Following Stalin’s death, there was a liberalisation of attitudes toward sexual issues in the Soviet Union, but homosexual acts remained illegal. Nonetheless, homosexual culture became increasingly visible, particularly following the glasnost policy of Mikhail Gorbachev’s government in the late 1980s.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the foundation of the Russian Federation in 1991, the Council of Europe pressured the new administration to legalize homosexuality, leading President Boris Yeltsin to do so in 1993. However, there are several restrictions on activities related to homosexuality.

Prior to Tsarist policy, homosexuality and cross-dressing were punished by religious authorities or militias. Ivan the Terrible was accused of being gay, in an attempt to discredit him. When Tsar “False Dmitry I” was overthrown his broken body was dragged through the streets, from his genitals, alongside his reputed boyfriend.

  • In 1716, Tsar Peter the Great enacted a ban on male homosexuality in the armed forces. The prohibition on sodomy was part of a larger reform movement designed to modernize Russia and efforts to extend a similar ban to the civilian population were rejected until 1835.
  • In 1832, Tsar Nicholas I added Article 995 which outlawed muzhelozhstvo. While this could have created a ban on all forms of private adult voluntary homosexual behavior, the courts tended to limit its interpretation to anal sex between men, thus making private acts of oral sex between consenting men legal. The law did not explicitly address female homosexuality or cross-dressing, although both behaviors were considered to be equally immoral and may have been punished under other laws. Persons convicted under Article 995 were to be stripped of their rights and relocated to Siberia for four to five years. It is unknown how many Russians were sentenced under this law, although there were a number of openly gay and bisexual Russians during this era, e.g. the conservative Nikolai Gogol, and homoerotic rites were popular among some religious dissidents in the far north of Russia. The relatively high number of openly gay or bisexual artists and intellectuals continued on into the late nineteenth century.
  • Author and critic Konstantin Leontiev was bisexual, and one of the most famous couples in the late-nineteenth-century Russian literary world were the lesbians Anna Yevreinova (a laywer) and Maria Feodorova (an author). Another notable Russian lesbian couple were author Polyxena Soloviova and Natalia Manaseina. Other notables included poet Alexei Apukhtin, Peter Tchaikovsky, conservative author and publisher Prince Vladimir Meshchersky, Sergei Diaghilev, who had an affair with his cousin Dmitry Filosofov and, after the breakup, with Vaslav Nijinsky. Mikhail Kuzmin’s novel Wings (1906) became one of the first “coming out” stories to have a happy ending and his private journals provide a detailed view of a gay subculture, involving men of all classes.
  • While there was a degree of government tolerance extended to certain gay or bisexual artists and intellectuals, especially if they were on friendly terms with the Imperial family, the pervasive public opinion, greatly influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Church, was that homosexuality was a sign of corruption, decadence and immorality. Russian author Alexander Amfiteatrov‘s novel titled People of the 1890s (1910), reflected this prejudice with two gay characters; a masculine lesbian attorney and a decadent gay poet.
  • Leo Tolstoy‘s Resurrection introduces a Russian artist, convicted for having sex with his students but given a lenient sentence, and a Russian activist for gay rights as examples of the widespread corruption and immorality in Tsarist Russia.
  • These depictions of gay men and women in literature suggest that the government’s selective tolerance of homosexuality was not widely expressed among the Russian people and that it was also divorced from any endorsement of LGBT rights. While other nations, most notable Germany, had an active “gay rights movement” during this era, the most visible example of Russian homosexuality, aside from literature, was prostitution.
  • Russian urbanization had helped to ensure that St. Petersburg and Moscow both had gay brothels, along with many public places where men would buy and sell sexual services for or from other men. While there certainly was lesbian prostitution, and some alleged lesbian affairs, less was publicly said, good or bad, about gay or bisexual women. Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov (the younger brother and uncle, respectively, of Russian Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II) served as the Governor of Moscow from 1891–1905. His homosexual relationships were widely famous in Moscow.
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7 Responses to Lenin spoke of Russia as the most free country in the world

  1. reinvented9 says:

    first of all I must apologize for my silence during these days. It’s a very busy time: MBA exams, my examination for the admission to the Italian bar of litigators, renovation of my new flat… I think I should stop sleeping for a few months in order to manage everything properly without going crazy!

    Reading your previous comment I felt incredibly close to your words…feeling lonely and misunderstood in the world we’re living. Probably this is the main reason I decided to start blogging, you might have noticed I’m pretty new right here. I have many friends to discuss with, but I often feel I have to express myself more deeply, without any kind of prejudice or fear, but most of all being open to worthy dialogue.

    Meaningless words are fast, and too simple to me: all of this “like” culture generated from facebook is clearly at the opposite of dialogue, and of course you feel unsatisfied by only sharing a stupid “I like”. To me it is pointless, unless you tell me the reason you like it (or not). That’s dialogue, sharing thoughts!

    I don’t know the reason, but I feel some kind of connection with you, your words, your topics, and I hope we’ll have the opportunity to start many future dialogues on all of your next works!

    Je te souhaite une trés bonne nuit!


    • You are welcome, Mario. Do not apologize. We have our own life and sometimes, the time miss us. So, thanks for your congratulation, and I very happy about our dialogues. There is no friend in my life. I do not know why, because my life is very intense and I met so many people … Maybe I am a little shy … No, I lie. People are opportunist. Last year, with my boyfriend, – who is 20 years younger than me – we traveled the world during one year, to meet some people and to realize a dream. We were very disappointed when at the end, we met only five guys with whom we were able to speak a little. One Thai, two Australian, one New Zealander and one Japanese guy. What happen in the world? All people have an eye screwed on their iPhone, awaiting THE news. What kind of news? I shall never know. We went in many gay bars, to the Sydney Gay Parade and nothing happens. We tried Grindr ; it worked. After the “task”, the guys discussed with us and the smile returned on our faces. People curl up on themselves. I read you are going to be a lawyer and you know how the speech is important, words have a sense and the development of an idea an art. On this last point, I did this during all my life. Speak, speak and speak and listen a lot. What for? To improve my knowledge of the other with an exchange point of view. This makes what I am. A simple boy, with quiet life, who lives close the sea in Britain. Mario, you are the first and the only one with whom I can discuss profoundly. You can imagine how I am happy. You seem to be a very kind guy and I appreciate your words. About dialogue, it is the MOST important thing in the world. You can be agree or disagree with a point of view, but this it is not important. Buddha said: “Have a doubt in all things, including in what I say”. That is my life line. I shall not be sure of my knowledge, until the end. Thus, Mario, we are involved in a kind of chat above the level of Facebook and I am so glad about that. Hope you have a nice weekend and read you soon. “Un giorno senza sole è come, sapete, la notte…”

  2. reinvented9 says:

    Reblogged this on Re-inventing myself.

  3. reinvented9 says:

    Hey there…your article is very interesting..though I think you’re missing the point. Not only LGBT people should stand for LGBT rights..all the others should too, in a truly democratic and plural State. See what just happened in France: many non-LGBT were widely in favor of the legalization of gay marriage. Many other were just at the opposite side – and still they are – but they both expressed their point of view.
    I think that if Russia still appears us as behind a Medieval fog, that’s beacause of herself. If the people of that beautiful country love to stay beneath a very concentrate political power (and, through the last centuries, they proved they liked it quite a lot), then that’s their fault.
    Every non democratic system has rules which can lead to a violation of almost every human right. Still, I feel I can only say I’m sorry for them. But looking at the people not fighting for their democratic rights, I have to consider that as a public acceptance of whatever their government says. It’s sad, I know, but unless they realize that they’re losing their dignity of human being, there’s nothing to do. They approved it.

    • Thank you very much for your comment . I agree with you and your opportune remarks. I have a sincere respect for people who live in their country and how they want to live. If their country is not a democracy such we understand it in Europe, it seems that a large majority of people agree with government’s decisions. It is like that for now. I wish the best for all Russian. It would better, of course, that all people in Russia live their own life in total freedom, but It is not easy to change a system. It’s a pity that Russia made a repressive law against Gay people. About France, I do not understand the buzz and violence that the project of law about the same-sex marriage did. Human beings are humans beings with their inconsistency. France, the country of freedom and reason is no longer what it was. My mother went to St Petersburg and Moscow. She adored Russia. By the way, she was a first-class anticommunist. She was absolutely charmed by Russian who are kind peoples. My boyfriend and I planned to go to St Petersburg, but only in package tour. Where is the truth? Is Russia a dangerous country for gays travellers? Soon, I hope tell you the right answer. A last thing, I do not believe very much on LGBT activism. I was a managing member of a big VIP gay association in France and I left because they take systematically a bad way to reach the target. As one of my friends said “Gays are more concerned about the closure of a sauna, more than Egyptian hanged in Cairo..” I could check his words and he was in truth. It was a pleasure for me to reply.

      • reinvented9 says:

        Hello, sorry for my late reply to your comment. First of all, thank you for reading my first comment on your post, it is my pleasure to share my personal point of view with you.

        As you said, LGBT activism is sadly not enough in the pursuit of a full equality among all human being, without any difference related to sexual orientation, race, religion and culture. I totally agree with you.

        I think the proper field of LGBT rights is not as a single part of the law, well-separated from all the others in which we all are included (such as tax law, criminal law and so on). LGBT rights are HUMAN RIGHTS, thus, they must be included in every constitutional legal system (obviously, in a state of law, I’m not even talking about régimes politically oriented and totalitarian). Every citizen should be concerned about human rights in every democratic country in this world.

        After 2nd World War, no one doubted that the Nazi’s régime had committed inhuman crimes deporting and killing millions of jews. Everybody, not only the discriminated jews, stood for the right not to be treated as a 2nd class human being. We all learned that giving full power to an autocratic régime simply means allowing discrimination and horrible breaking of human rights.

        Nevertheless, our contemporary societies seem to have forgotten that among the millions of jews unmercifully killed by the Nazis there was a huge number of homosexuals, gypsies and many other “unuseful” human beings.

        Remembering the atrocious crimes committed at that time is not a meaningless act we renew on 27th January of each year. This commemoration is a warning against discrimination and moreover against totalitarian power.

        That’s the reason why everyone of us (not only LGBT activists), fully aware of all the consequences shown us by 2WW, has to fight against every kind of political refusal to respect human rights.

        Even though the ugly truth depict us as frivolous, truly concerned only about the closure of a sauna.

        Thank you so much for giving me the chance to express my thoughts on this subjects, I truly appreciate it.


        • Hello! I think like me, you do not go to bed very early. I read your answer and I must say that I am amazed by both the style and content. How not to be in total agreement with you? It feels good to feel a little less alone in front of my keyboard, when you trying to get people to understand the absurdity of the world we live in and take action to change this world. I often felt out of sync with the world, by having lived fully in the world. A lot. I always dreamed of a world where tolerance, truth, kindness, respect for difference and peace would lead the humanity.. Noting that this world which I had imagined, I did not see it and did not hear, I told myself that in addition to being gay, I was different. Maybe I lack neurons … I look at what are the topics which interest most the visitors on my blog and I realize that people are more attracted by concise articles and / or frivolous sections more than those trying to raise the debate or provoke a reaction. Today we just “Like” something or not. That’s it. Few or no dialogue. This it makes me a bit afraid because I intend to continue to write articles long enough in several parts on topics that infuriate me like the Inquisition (I will continue the work started), the slavery, the death penalty (reflection for or against), St. Bartholomew, lying, democracy (the betrayal of the people), information and the treatment of it by journalists. And finally, a debate which will ask the following question ” will the gay marriage kill the gays? “. I wanted to do a thoughtful article on Triangles Roses but the documentation is pretty low on the subject mostly seen from France, where cases were not very numerous. For cons, I will do an article about the deportation in general because there are many things that shock me and resume the tragedy of “Triangles Roses”, among others. No, there has not been only the Jews, many others also. And the media speak very little about that.

          Soon for further dialogue or elsewhere, I’m sure.

          Vi auguro una buona notte e giorno!

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