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Some Countries Hurtle Backward on Gay Issues
condemned Russia’s behavior. While efforts to call for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics have failed, many heads of state are declining to attend. President Barack Obama thumbed his nose at the country’s awful behavior by sending openly gay athletes (such as Billie Jean King) as America’s delegation.Gays in Russia are likely looking at America’s rapidly changing culture with envy. Their country is moving in the opposite direction. Russian nationalists, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the government have decided to make the country’s gay community a cultural scapegoat, outlawing adoptions by gay couples (or anybody living in a country that recognizes same-sex marriage) and implementing harsh censorship laws that make it nigh impossible to publicly advocate for gay issues. Gays in Russia now face violent attacks. Western countries have
India faced a significant setback as well, as the country’s Supreme Court ruled that an anti-sodomy law struck down in 2009 is still valid, recriminalizing gay sex in one of the world’s most populous countries.
And Uganda passed a law threatening punishments, up to life imprisonment, for those who engage in gay sex — and even for those who simply provide support for homosexuals.
It’s important to note, though, that activists aren’t taking these retrograde moves lying down. Despite cultural conservatism in Russia and India, significant amounts of media attention and criticism are being directed at these choices in a way that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Social media tools have allowed activists to connect in a way they never have before. Gays in less free countries don’t have to feel as alone or isolated as they did before, and international connections are diminishing the ability to implement and maintain oppressive anti-gay regulations.