2013-05-17 13:14:00

Three-fourths of Russians insist govt. should ban public display of homosexuality

Moscow, May 17, Interfax - Homophobia is rather common in Russian society and attitudes toward the LGBT community have been changing slowly throughout the past year, sociologists said.

The same as a year ago, three-fourths of Russians brand gays and lesbians as morally loose (43%) or mentally deficient persons (35%). Only 12% acknowledge homosexuality's right to existence, the Levada Center told Interfax on Friday presenting a nationwide survey.

Yet the opinion of Russians whether gays and lesbians should have equal rights with heterosexuals has changed over last year: now 47% call for limiting their rights, as compared with 40% in 2012. The number of respondents supporting equality has reduced from 46% to 39%. The percentage of hesitant respondents remains rather high, 15% now and 13% a year before.

Public opinions were also split over a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation: 37% supported that measure, 37% raised objections and 26% could not decide. The Levada Center said the opinions have not changed much since last year.

Some 73% of the respondents polled in 130 towns and cities in 45 regions in late April insist that the government must ban any public displays of homosexuality or excuses for such (14% disagreed). Some 44% of the respondents said that the government did not have to protect sexual minorities from possible aggressive acts, and 38% argued that security must be ensured.

The survey showed that Russians were more hostile to gays and lesbians than to people of other nationalities, religions, social statuses or values. Fifty-one percent of the respondents said that homosexuals "must be prosecuted" and given therapy. Only 8% said such people should be helped " to live a worthy life" in society, and 31% said they "should be simply left alone."

Some 45% of the respondents answered a direct question about the essence of homosexuality that homosexuals became such under the influence of society, 21% said it was an inborn feature, and 20% said "both variants were equally frequent." Fourteen percent failed to answer the question.

Russia does not have a federal law banning propaganda of homosexuality amongst minors, but some regions - Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, Kostroma and Novosibirsk regions and St. Petersburg - have passed such legislative acts.