Op-Ed: Sexual Freedom Of Expression, Censorship and Putin's Russia as the Canary In The Coal Mine.

by Coleen Singer.

By now, you’ve probably read countless reports on the new wave of censorship of sexual content, ranging from David Cameron’s opt-in plan for porn on the internet, to Australia’s brief plan to do so (which mysteriously took a 360 turn last week), to the “mandatory condom” laws being forced down the throats (or other orifices, as it were) of the Adult Industry in California by the Aids Health Foundation.  Even Iceland is getting into the game!  But, let’s take a look at how far down the repression bunnyhole this can go:  Russia.

Sure, Russia has a long history of political repression, maniacal genocidal and ethnic cleansing campaigns, and other outright evil things, but since the 1990s with the fall of the USSR and hard-line communist ideologically-driven laws, in the past 20 years, it’s all just lightened up a lot and, up until lately, the only thing that came to mind for most of us when it comes to Russia was vodka, really long poems, really, REALLY long novels with 7 names for each character, furry hats, crappy weather, and an active mafia that, among other things, controls most of the free and pirated porn on the internet.

Read on…

But then, last year under the stern/sociopathic hand and ideology of Russian President Vladimir Putin, came the first clear hint that things were about to change:  Pussy Riot.

On February 21, 2012, five members of the all-girl punk rock group staged a performance on the soleas of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Their actions were stopped by church security officials. By evening, they had turned it into a music video entitled “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!“.


The women said their protest was directed at the Orthodox Church leader’s support for Putin during his election campaign.

On March 3, 2012, two of the group members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested and charged with hooliganism. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was arrested on March 16. Denied bail, they were held in custody until their trial began in late July. On August 17, 2012, the three members were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, and each was sentenced to two years imprisonment. Two other members of the group, who escaped arrest after February’s protest, reportedly left Russia fearing prosecution. On October 10, following an appeal, Samutsevich was freed on probation, her sentence suspended. The sentences of the other two women were upheld. In late October 2012, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were separated and sent to prison.

Thus, by having the audacity to not only poke fun at the the Russian Orthodox Church, imploring the Virgin Mary chase Putin away, and giving themselves a rather “porny” name like “Pussy Riot”, it all ended up similar to what happened to Russian dissidents during the Stalin regime. Sham Trials! Gulags! All of that kind of stuff that the rest of the world just assumed had gone away thanks to Mr. Gorbechev breaking up the old guard.

And then, the next shoe dropped: Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signing into law the new homophobic Bill that criminalizes gay freedom of expression. The adoption of children by foreign same-sex couples has also been banned and gay organizations that receive financial donations from overseas are being fined as ‘foreign agents’.

As reported in the Huffington Post:

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) campaigners in St Petersburg who attempted to hold a Gay Pride march last Saturday were violently attacked by neo-Nazis and ultra nationalists. The police failed to protect them. At least seven LGBT people were hospitalised with injuries. Around 60 peaceful LGBT protesters and some straight allies were arrested, with many being roughly manhandled by the police and detained for hours in police stations.

Previously, on 25 May, an attempted Moscow Gay Pride parade was broken up and the participants arrested. Earlier, the parade was issued with an official banning order and the organiser, Nikolai Alekseev, was sent two intimidating letters by the state authorities.

Previously, the Russian courts banned Moscow Gay Pride parades for the next 100 years.

gay pride arrest

100 YEARS?  Whoa….. That’s harsh, considering the rest of the Western world has pretty much accepted (or at least grudgingly allowed) the LGBT community into the big tent of polite society.
A hundred years is a LONG time, considering what was happening in 1913 as a baseline for just how much things can and do change over a century.  Let’s take a look at some of the happenings during that year, a short century ago:

  • U.S. Post office begins parcel post deliveries
  • U.S. National Woman’s Party forms
  • 1st sedan-type car (Hudson) goes on display at 13th Auto Show (NYC)
  • NYC’s Grand Central Terminal opens
  • Woodrow Wilson inaugurated as 28th president of the United States
  • Igor Stravinsky’s ballet score The Rite of Spring is premiered in Paris, provoking a riot.
  • 1st pilot to parachute from an aircraft (Adolphe Pégoud-France)
  • Amsterdam reroutes sewage of canals to its’ South Seas
  • Association for Study of Negro Life & History organizes in Chicago
  • Federal Income Tax signed into law (at 1%)
  • Henry Ford institutes moving assembly line
  • 1st modern elastic brassiere patented by Mary Phelps Jacob
  • 1st drive-up gasoline station opens
  • Charlie Chaplin began his film career at Keystone for $150 a week
  • 1st crossword puzzle (with 32 clues) printed in NY World

Well. That pretty much sums up how time heals all wounds!  (Or “Time wounds all heels!)

Although the new legislation is ostensibly aimed at prohibiting the dissemination of so-called ‘gay propaganda’ to young persons under 18, in reality it’s damaging effect will be much wider. It will criminalize any public advocacy of LGBT equality or any expression of gay identity where a person younger than 18 years old could potentially see it. In practice, LGBT marches, festivals, posters, magazines, books, films, welfare advice and safer sex education are likely to face criminal prosecution, as will individuals who identify themselves as gay in public. Any statement that homosexuality is natural and normal will become criminal, as will the provision of gay-affirmative counseling or safer sex information to LGBT youth.

Putin seems hell-bent on forcing LGBT people back into the closet and locking the door. This law is effectively a blanket censorship of any public expression of same-sex love, gay identity and LGBT human rights. It could result in the purging of books, films and plays with LGBT characters and story-lines from libraries, galleries, theaters and cinemas, including many classic works of art and literature.

Without question, it’s one of the most sweeping and harsh laws against LGBT freedom of expression anywhere in the world.  So much for the thought that the Russian people are “Sort Of People Like Us” and wouldn’t dream to pull any of the oppressive crap that goes on in “countries of people not-like-us” (i.e. China and other far away exotic lands with people that eat endangered animals livers as a cure-all).

Soviet Death Camp Photo

However, Mr. Putin is stuck back in the 1930s with his totalitarian smack-downs aimed at dissidents, books, films, public demonstrations and marches and other “real-time” events that are relatively easy to control if you have a big enough police force (which he does).  But what about this nagging little problem that presents massive problems to censors called “THE INTERNET“?  Fear not, Mr. Putin, between the Chinese government, Google and the NSA, all of the tools for a good cyber smack-down are already in place (for a hefty licensing fee) and you too can jump on the band wagon without being slowed down by little annoyances like a Parliament, Congress or due legal process!  You can get all that “Gay Stuff” (and straight stuff too) off the the Russian internet – just grab your increasingly Red dick and double click and a magical world of spidering and blocking of sexual content unfolds just for you!

This cleanup of the Russian internet does face the little problem mentioned earlier that the majority of Tubes and piracy torrents are owned and operated by the Russian Mafia. Will Mr. Putin have the kahoonas to go head to head with the economic power brokers, most of whom took over the Russian economy after the breakup of the USSR, and decrease their online revenue?

The rest of us will just have to wait and see how this all unfolds.  One can only hope that Putin pushes censorship so far that in the West, it then becomes unfashionable and makes proponents of it like Prime Minister Cameron and the 12 guy parliament in an ice cave in Iceland shy away from it as not to look like they are “Pulling a Putin”.

But, there is a little “happy ending” of the moment!

A HAPPY ENDING (or at least musical interlude)….
In 2014, Russia will host the Winter Olympics.  What better revenge against Putin than having live coverage on all Russian and world-wide cable TV covering…..


men's figure dancing
Liberace wasn’t gay either. Just “colorful”!

Miles of spandex bulging crotches and dainty gesticulations by male skaters that are so beautiful they SHOULD be gay even if they aren’t!
The BIG question is, will Johnny Weir we be blocked from the games?  He is, after all, the most famous “gay foreign agent” that is sure to ramp it up even further just to stick it to Putin!
Never heard of Johnny Weir?  Watch the video……

In the meantime, let’s all find some little ways to practice some good old fashioned hooliganism and civil disobedience here at home to protect our freedom of sexual expression.

“I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.”” ~ H.D. Thoreau. “Civil Disobedience.”



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