Conservatives have traditionally been leery of Russia, but that was before the right saw how hostile the country is to gay rights (thanks to reader R.B. for the heads-up).
As the hub of the Soviet Union, Russia was reviled for rights abuses by many U.S. conservatives during the Cold War. Now some are voicing support and admiration as Russian authorities crack down on gay-rights activism.
The latest step drawing praise from social conservatives is a bill signed into law Sunday by President Vladimir Putin that would impose hefty fines for holding gay pride rallies or providing information about the gay community to minors.
All of a sudden, conservative activists who’ve generally had no use for Russia – indeed, the right has traditionally used Russia as a point of comparison that Americans must reject – have rediscovered how much they like the country after all. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute said it “admires” Russia’s latest anti-gay moves; Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality lauded Russia for rejecting “America’s reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion”; and the Illinois-based World Congress of Families has scheduled its 2014 conference for the Kremlin.
Stefano Gennarini, another U.S. activist at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, was asked about Russia’s proposed fine on gay couples showing public displays of affection. He responded that “$155 is hardly unmanageable for homosexuals who want to kiss in public.”
Remember, the American right believes it’s defined by its celebration of freedom and limited government.
And then, of course, there’s evangelical activist Scott Lively.
If Lively’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because of his work in Uganda, where he brags he is known as the “father” of the anti-gay movements. When Uganda took up a “Kill the Gays” bill, proponents said it arose out of an anti-gay conference that Lively headlined in 2009. Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that Lively has spent the last decade working “systematically to strip away human rights protections from LGBT people” around the world, becoming “a kind of persecution consultant, strategizing with influential leaders and cohorts in other countries about ways to further silence and remove LGBT people from basic protections of the law.”
And wouldn’t you know it, Lively conducted a 50-city speaking tour of Russia in 2007, where he recommended the very measures Russia is now pursuing. From the AP report:
“Russia could become a model pro-family society,” he wrote. “If this were to occur, I believe people from the West would begin to emigrate to Russia in the same way that Russians used to emigrate to the United States and Europe.” […]
“Russians, even after glasnost, are comfortable with an authoritarian style,” he said. “That wouldn’t work in the United States.”
Let those quotes roll around in your mind for a moment. Lively thinks it’s possible that Americans would emigrate to Russia because of its anti-gay policies, and he sounds a little disappointed that Americans aren’t more accepting of Russia’s authoritarian tendencies.
And to think, conservatives have no idea why they’re losing the culture wars.