The owner of a chain of Russian food stores has placed signs in all his properties saying that gay customers will be denied entry.
The sign reads: “No entry for faggots.”
Owner German Sterligov defended the decision to post the sign, telling Reuters: “Our planet is full of filth and sick humans.”
“In front of our eyes is the historical experience of Sodom and Gomorrah when God burned these towns,” he added, referring to the story of Lot from the Old Testament.
Even though Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, and Russian law prohibits sexual discrimination, anti-gay views still hold sway among a large portion of the populace, particularly those that adhere to the hardline views of the Russian Orthodox church.
Yulia Gorbunova, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, says that Sterligov’s decision to flout the country’s nondiscrimination laws sends a bad message and sets a dangerous precedent that other shop owners may choose to follow, particularly given the negative views many Russians have towards homosexuality.
“It seems like they are promoting homophobia in an already homophobic society and it only leads to rising tensions,” Gorbunova told Reuters Television. “The state certainly has a responsibility to stop that and step in.”
In recent years, Russian politicians have been outspoken in their hatred or contempt for members of the LGBTQ community. Two years ago, the country tried to exert its influence at the United Nations to stop gay employees from receiving marital benefits. Russian politicians have passed laws prohibiting transgender people from driving, and infamously pushed an anti-gay “propaganda” law that prohibits the dissemination of information considered positive towards or supportive of “non-traditional sexual relations.”
Despite this, Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that Western nations have unfairly tagged his country as homophobic. According to Putin, Russian lawmakers are simply trying to promote strong families and family values, and are not moving to criminalize homosexuality. Yet Putin has also recently been criticized by Western leaders for what many see as his lackluster response to reports of anti-gay persecution in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
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