The Advocate has named Vladimir Putin as its Person of the Year. The Russian leader appears on the December/January cover with some conspicuously placed text, no doubt an allusion to another magazine’s infamously mustachioed Man of the Year.
The choice, from the LGBT-focused magazine is, of course, a politically-charged one, as Russia has become one of the worst countries in terms of its policies towards gays and lesbians. Last year they passed a law banning “gay propaganda” outright. The law, as The Guardian explained at the time, “in effect makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as the distribution of material on gay rights. It introduces fines for individuals and media groups found guilty of breaking the law, as well as special fines for foreigners.”
The Advocate explains further:
According to Pew Research’s 2014 Global Attitudes Project, 72% of Russians think homosexuality is morally unacceptable. This hints at the increasing domination of the Russian Orthodox Church, which between 1991 and 2008 saw the number of adults calling themselves adherents increase from 31% to 72%. In July 2013, Patriarch Kirill I, leader of the church, deemed same-sex marriage “a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse,” a sentiment that appeals to Putin’s conservative base. Julie Dorf, a senior adviser at the Council for Global Equality, argues that Putin relies on the church to legitimize his rhetoric, and in turn, the church gets greater political access. “Without [Putin’s] personal agenda of using homophobia as a tool to keep himself buoyed domestically, I don’t think the church’s own homophobia would have risen to the same level,” Dorf says.
The story paints a grim picture of the climate in Russia in terms of civil rights. Read the rest here.