Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda" documents Putin's recent anti-gay law with interviews

Tonight, HRC and Reel Affirmations hosted a screening of “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda”, directed by Michael Lucas (who did the QA) and Scott Stern.

The film, 78 minutes, presents many interviews with LGBT people in Russia, many of them by Lucas, some anti-gay average citizens, and at least one anti-gay politician who was partly behind the 2013 law, which presents an dissemination of information of “non traditional sexual lifestyles” in front of minors.  Sometimes the law is characterized as prohibiting publish speech, discoverable by minors, suggesting that gay relationships were equivalent to heterosexual marriage, or that gay people were equal to “normal” people.  Therefore, arguing for your own equality is a crime.
The film could be compared to the BBC-HBO fifty minute film “Dispatches: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia” by Ben Steele, reviewed on my TV blog Feb. 9, 2014.  That later film has created a sensation by its depiction of anti-gay vigilantism that the law seems to excuse or even encourage.  As well as ABC’s report “Moscow Is Burning” about the now closed Central Station disco in Moscow, reviewed Feb. 15. 2014 on that blog. But this newer film is much “quieter”.
During the QA, Lucas said that Russian authorities might not find the film objectionable, as it is a documentary, and lets some Russians state their anti-gay views with a straight face.
The interviews to hit the tendency of Russian culture to associate homosexuality with pedophilia.  But moreover, it takes the position that Russians have lost a lot if individual freedom since about 2000 as Putin consolidates power.  Aa the economy stagnates, Vladimir Putin looks for scapegoats, and finds LGBT an easy mark.  The film also takes the position that Russians tend to believe that homosexuality is a cultural import from the West, and they’re supposed to hate the West as part of Russian nationalism.  Since the fall of the former Soviet Union at the end of 1991, religion has become stronger in Russia, and the Russian Orthodox Church has reinforced anti-gay ideas.

The film covers the intention of Putin's regime to take children away from same-sex couples, which "will happen".  They would be put into orphanages.  Yet most kids who grow up in Russian orphanages turn out to become criminals, it was said in the QA. 
Still, there is such obvious circularity in their views.  Putin has also made a lot of Russia’s low birthrate.  It’s pretty obvious that he thinks that gay men and women, if allowed to speak, will encourage others to have fewer children by the examples they set.  There is also a degree of fascism in the views now (even though Stalin-style communism was vehemently anti-gay, and ironically Russia actually dropped its sodomy law in 1993).  There is an idea that you should be fit to carry on society, or else, accept subservience or perish (which is pretty much what Nazi Germany believed).
In the QA, I asked a question about how asylum was working out from Russia and other countries, as the press has been vague on this sensitive point.  The discussion went into several areas. Lucas mentioned that Israel has to make sure that people trying to emigrate from Palestine and claiming to be gay aren’t terrorists.  He also made an interesting point about ISIS:  that in Britain, many of the young men recruited to go fight in Syria and now Iraq were bullied as kids because they were redheads. 

A couple of asylees were in the audience.  One person from the DC Center (link) pointed out that you can be a member of a persecuted social group to apply for asylum without proving you are gay.  As I noted on my LGBT blog Oct. 3 and Sept. 29, 2014, the question of how LGBT refugees are supported while here has been little covered by the media – but they can’t work for six months.  Back in 1980, there was pressure in Dallas for LGBT people to house gay Cuban refugees, and that caused a lot of controversy (especially with the local Catholic Charities).   That kind of appeal hasn’t been made this time, and would be politically controversial with regards to overall immigration policy --- very much, morally double-edged.

The official site is here  (Breaking Glass Pictures, in Philadelphia).  There's more video from the QA here

The film could well be compare to documentaries about anti-gay measures in some other countries, as with "God Loves Uganda" (Oct. 2013) and "The World's Worst Place to Be Gay", as well as accounts of Nazi policy as in "Paragraph 175" (2000), and "The Consequence" (1977) and even "The Hidden Fuhrer: Debating the Enigma of Hitler's Sexuality" (2004) based on Lothar Machtan's controversial book, 

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