The Honors Herald The New York City Pforzheimer Honors College at Pace University Volume 3 Pace University 1 Pace Plaza W208/209 New York, NY 10038 P: 212 346 1697 Issue 2 March 2014 Sochi Persists Despite Protests Erkinaz Shuminov, Contributor Under Mikhail Gorbachev’s rule, Russia saw the emergence of the nation’s first gay organization, the Moscow Gay and Lesbian Alliance. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian filmmakers produced several LGBT documentaries. Pressured by the Council of Europe in 1993, Russian President Boris Yeltsin decriminalized same-sex sexual activity. Since that same year, the age of consent, 16, has been the same for straight and homosexual Russian citizens. Since 1997, Russian citizens have been allowed to change their legal gender. Since 1999, homosexuality has no longer been classified as a mental illness. In 2008, Russian LGBT activists, including prominent journalist Nikolay Alexeyev, successfully campaigned for the repeal of the ban on homosexual men donating blood. The cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg foster strong LGBT communities. Despite the absence of anti-discrimination laws, Russia had been effecting legal and cultural advancements for the LGBT community for the past two decades. Then, in 2011, the Ministry of Justice prohibited the use of a Pride House for the Sochi Olympics, claiming that allowing a house to host LGBT athletes and visitors would infringe on the country’s moral convictions. In 2012, Judge Svetlana Mordovina defended the decision and warned that a Pride House may, “undermine the security of the Russian society and the state, provoke social-religious hatred,” and harm children. Despite winning a 2008 case against Russia’s suppression of three consecutive pride events from 2006 to 2008, Moscow Pride organizer Nikolay Alexeyev was prohibited in 2012 from organizing gay pride events for the next 100 years. The next year, on June 29, President Vladimir Putin signed off on a federal law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” The law criminalizes the distribution of information relevant to LGBT and the expression of language that allegedly supports LGBT. Some regions had implemented an additional ban on “propaganda of homosexuality, bisexuality, and/or transgenderism.” In a demonstration of the law’s extent, the editor-in-chief of Russian newspaper Molodoi Dalnevostochnik was fined 50,000 rubles ($1,356.60) for publishing a story about the dismissal of a gay teacher, Alexandr Yermoshkin. In September 2013, two Russian activists were detained outside the organizing committee of the Sochi Games in Moscow for holding up a poster that read, “Homophobia is Russia’s Disgrace.” Russia had first suppressed sexual minorities in 1716 with Tsar Peter the Great’s ban on homosexual relations in armed conflicts. That restriction continued with the 1832 criminalization of same-sex relations between men, punishable by a maximum of five years in exile. In 1906, author Mikhail Kuzmin’s published his novel Wings, a story centered on homosexual characters. As the Tsarist government toppled and the Soviet Union formed, new leader Vladimir Lenin legalized homosexuality in 1922. In 1933, Joseph Stalin recriminalized homosexual activities, subjecting men to a maximum sentence of five years of imprisonment and women to institutionalization.