Russia laws against “gay propaganda” make it a crime to promote homosexuality, or perhaps even gay rights, but they stop short of outlawing being gay. The explanation given by the government is that promoting homosexuality is an attack on children. Many have also worked to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia, despite the fact that social scientists and psychologists are in agreement that pedophilia and homosexuality are distinct orientations.
Russia has recently been rocked by several high-profile pedophilia cases, including among several public officials. This editorial, interestingly enough published in the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper, argues that the focus on homosexuality as a way to combat pedophilia is convenient, but doesn’t make for good policy. – Ed.
A peculiarity of the media environment is that the connection between a statement and a fact can be practically impossible to reconstruct; in one place it can be read one way, in another place another way, and only God knows where the truth is and where it is not. Therefore, the conversation has to be had, not so much about facts, so much as about the facts of publications. Especially if you keep in mind the presumption of innocence, and it’s a question of an accusation that is as serious as pedophilia.
Last week, a certain American professor, a campaigner for traditional values, came to Moscow and spoke to the deputies [in parliament] about the danger of the gay threat. The professor had apparently conducted research and determined that homosexuality and pedophilia are connected. Deputy Milonov says the same thing to the whole country from the television screen. And he also says there are facts and research. To be sure, it cannot be ruled out that Deputy Milonov read this research in the works of Father Pigidiy [a fictitious figure who has become a Russian meme]. Some write that this American professor has caught making fraudulent claims several times, but others write that this is all the pedophile-gay lobby. It is hard to tell the truth from the lie.
But something strange offends the eye. The deputies and the American professors try to look like civilized people; they say they are not against the phenomenon in general, they are just against promoting it, isn’t that so? That is, their enemies are those fashionable television anchors and journalists, artists and singers, and finally those activists – frail youths and girls whom the OMON [riot police] take out of buses and push back into buses. They don’t have anything against those who conceal their orientation, right?
And here is what is surprising: people living their lives openly under the moonlight – in Rozanov’s words – journalists and television anchors, artists and singers, and finally activists – live with their partners or find themselves new ones in night clubs but somehow they get by without scandals involving any children.
The real scandals of this type look completely different. A few months ago, there was a scandal involving the head of a club for patriotic education. He had a wife and two daughters, and a club in which the hero of the story recruited boys and taught them to sail boats and love the Motherland. Now there’s a priest under suspicion, a prior of a cathedral, a former football player and the spiritual mentor of Zenit [Football Club of St. Petersburg] .
The Moscow sailor and patriot claimed that he was slandered – somebody supposedly needed the building where his club was. The trial is still underway apparently, so there is still hope for this story, but – with hand on heart – it is weak. On the Internet, you could even hear recordings of telephone conversations with double entendres – what, were they also fabricated?
The spiritual mentor of Zenit, a handsome man in photographs with a wife and three daughters (two adopted) and a son, is also claiming there was a conspiracy – either he had quarreled with the powerful of this world, or somebody needed a plot of land. And we must, of course, hope, that the mentor is innocent and the court will get to the bottom of it.
But why is it that all such scandals look so similar? Priests and leaders of clubs, athletes and trainers – and not one single open gay, television anchor or artist? So who should we protect the children against?
Given this background, the idea of equating the gay movement and pedophilia appears then not to be a clarification of the situation but a distraction of the public’s attention. This is done to create an illusion that is harmful because at a minimum it excessively simplifies the picture of the world and pins all the blame on those who in fact perhaps have entirely other interests.
If we want to protect children, then above all we need to stop simplifying and look reality in the face. The reality in fact consists, evidently, of the fact that in order to conceal his inclinations, the pedophile doesn’t choose a coming out and a campaign for the rights of minorities, but instead chooses some respectable activity – patriotic education, for example, or giving spiritual guidance to the young.
It’s also convenient because in the event that your secret gets out, you can always say that you were slandered by enemies of spirituality and patriotism.