Around the World, homosexuality is illegal in 78 countries. In five of those countries being homosexual is punishable by death.However the country to recently catch the attention of the internationalcommunity was Russia.

In 1917, under thenew leadership of Vladimir Lenin in the newly formed USSR, homosexuality was legalised for the first time since 1832. However it wasshort-lived because under the rule of Joseph Stalin, homosexuality wasrecriminalised in 1934.

It was legalised once again in 1993. Earlier this year,the World watched as Russia hosted the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The Gameswere seen as controversial because in June 2013, the Kremlin passed a federallaw dubbed the “Gay Propaganda Law”, which bans homosexuality being promoted to“minors”. This law as well as the actions of the Russian police and comments byRussian politicians are the reason Russia was deemed the worst country inEurope for LGBTQ rights by the InternationalLesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association- Europe’s Rainbow List2014.

The ILGA-Europe gave Russia just 6% overall, but judging to have 0% on freedomof assembly, association and expression for LGBTQ people, safe asylum,protection against discrimination and protection under the law and protectionfrom hate crime.

TheUnited Kingdom was deemed the best country in Europe for LGBTQ rights with ascore of 82%, followed closely by Belgium on 78% and Spain on 73%.

LizMackean, a journalist who presented Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary, Hunted,which shows how LGBTQ Russians were being treated since the passing of thepropaganda law last year, said that attitudes in Russia towards LGBTQ peoplewere unlikely to change.

She said that it was engrained in their culture andviewpoint. “That is the kind of default mentality of most Russians, which isthat something is wrong with being gay. And that anyone who is has essentiallysomething wrong with them…. There is no sign of that default mindset changing.”

Thedocumentary, Hunted showed vigilante groups feeling enabled by the ‘GayPropaganda Law’ because they appeared to connect homosexuality with pedophiliaand therefore used the excuse of protecting children as justification forhunting down LGBTQ Russians.

Liz believes that the message that homosexualityand pedophilia is linked and is being reinforced by the Russian OrthodoxChurch. The Guardian reported Russian President Vladimir Putin said in the runup to the Sochi Olympic Games that "We are not forbidding anything andnobody is being grabbed off the street, and there is no punishment for suchkinds of relations...You can feel relaxed and calm [in Russia], but leave childrenalone please".

With the Russian President reinforcing that connection itis no surprise that the vigilante groups in Russia feel able to continuehunting LGBTQ Russians. It appears that LGBTQ Russians are going to beoppressed even more by the Russian government, Orthodox Church and by theRussian populace as a whole because as Liz Mackean suggests, “To most Russians,homosexuality remains this weird perversion.”

Ugandamade homosexuality illegal in 1902 and it has remained that way ever since.

Howeveron the 20th December 2013, the Parliament of Uganda passed theAnti-Homosexuality Act 2014, which dropped the death penalty in favour of lifeimprisonment for any homosexual. However in August this year, theConstitutional Court of Uganda ruled the law invalid because it had no passedthrough parliament with the correct procedures. Now anti-gay MPs are attemptingto reintroduce the bill through the correct procedure.

Inthe United States of America, homosexuality only became legalised across the entirecountry in 2003. This was after the United States Supreme Court ruled thatState Sodomy Laws were unconstitutional, breaking the 14th Amendmentin Lawrence vs Texas 2003. The 14thAmendment to the United States Constitution states that no one is denied equalprotection under the law.

Sincethen the LGBTQ community has come a long way in securing more rights and inJune 2013, while Russia was oppressing LGBTQ people, the United States SupremeCourt repealed section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. This meant that therewas full federal recognition of same-sex marriage and that it would allowhomosexuals and bisexuals to marry their same-sex partner in any state that haddeemed it legal. Currently 19 states have legalised it as well as the Districtof Columbia.

Thedocumentary Bridegroom tells thestory of two gay young men. Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom (who the filmis named after). It tells their story from childhood through their coming outstages to meeting each other, falling in love and eventually to Tom’s death andthe aftermath that was caused. The film ends with Shane, because he was notmarried to Tom, having no rights concerning what happened to Tom’s body andfuneral despite being his long term partner, living together and owning a dogtogether. In the documentary, a mutual friend of both Shane’s and Tom’s, Joshsaid, “They were living the American Dream with the exception of being able toget married to each other.”

InFebruary this year, some states in America attempted to introduce legislationthat was dubbed “Gay Jim Crow” Laws. These laws would effectively allow anyoneincluding businesses and government officials the right to refuse to serveLGBTQ people on the grounds of religion. Kansa was the first to attempt passingthis sort of bill when the bill passed through the State’s House ofRepresentatives with a large majority, but was later crushed in the statesenate. Other bills appeared in the states of Georgia, South Dekota, Tennesseeand Arizona. All the bills were defeated and the Governor of Arizona, JanBrewer personally vetoed the controversial law.

Evenin the World’s most powerful nation, which has the word liberty stamped on itscurrency, can attempt to introduce legislation that would directly discriminateand oppress LGBTQ, while it criticises other countries like Russia and Ugandafor doing so.

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