#13 - JRL 7006
6 January 2003
Russian Gays Say Homophobia Still Engrained In Society
The Soviet ban on homosexuality may have been lifted, but homophobia is still deeply engrained in Russian society, according to the gay community.
Russian gays said that the majority ares till stuck in post-Soviet ideas and that they are still discriminated against. Many gay people are afraid to come out, for fear of being shunned by family and friends.
"I don't feel there has been any progress in Russia in the past 10 years in terms of tolerance toward sexual minorities," said Ignat Fialkovsky, president of St Petersburg's Association HS-Gay-Straight Alliance told Reuters.
Homosexuality was punishable by a prison sentence and many lesbians were sent to mental institutions as late as 1993. Many gays in Russia fear that homosexuality could be made illegal again.
Last year, a right wing group in the lower Russian parliament attempted to introduce an amendement to the country's law making it illegal to be gay.