While gay rights have been gaining ground in the West, they’ve been facing a strong backlash in many countries of the former Soviet Union.
Russia recently passed a law that makes it a crime to give information about “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors.
Gay-rights advocates say the wording of the law is so vague that it can be used to ban gay-pride parades or, in fact, any public discussion of same-sex issues.
Homosexuality was a crime in the former Soviet Union, and it remains so in former Soviet republics such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
The former Soviet republic of Georgia is contending with the aftermath of an episode of mass violence that took place in May. In Georgia’s capital city, Tblisi, a mob of thousands attacked a small group of people who were staging a protest against homophobia.
The leaders of the attack? Georgian Orthodox priests.
The episode raised issues about human rights in a religiously conservative country, as well as questions about the balance of power between church and state.
Gay-rights advocates scored a major and unprecedented victory at the polls yesterday as voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same-sex marriage. In Minnesota they defeated a proposed constitutional amendment, modeled on federal law, that would have banned same-sex marriage in the state.
With that, nine states—Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington—and the District of Columbia—have solidly approved same-sex marriage. Another 12 states permit ‘domestic partnerships’ or ‘civil unions,’ which provide varying degrees of rights. (The laws in New Jersey, California and Oregon give same-sex couples virtually all the state law rights opposite-sex married couples have.)