Crosscultural Dialogues are designed to bring students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in touch with their counterparts around the world and let the young men and women debate the questions of mutual interest.  Connected via Internet, students talk about international and local issues facing people in different countries, explore their differences, and identify points of agreement. The exchange is facilitated by civic culture and social science educators who identify discussion topics, help students formulate their positions, and teach them to look critically at the pressing issues of the day. The dialogue questions and student answers are posted on the site of the Center for Democratic Culture, UNLV organization promoting civic education and civility in public discourse through research, scholarly exchange, and community-based programs.  The first crosscultural dialogue addressed the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City that shook the United States on September 11, 2001, and the Nord-Ost Siege that lead to numerous casualties in Russia’s capital Moscow on October 10, 2002.  Excerpts from this dialogue can be found here:  Dialogue on Terrorism:  9/11 & 10/23.  Links to other crosscultural dialogues can be found bellow.

Dialogue on Gay Marriage

In the spring semester of 2014, students from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and State University of St. Petersburg took part in this dialogue. Questions and answers by the American and Russian students are reproduced below.

Диалог об Однополых Браках

Осенью 2014 г. студенты Университета Невады в Лас Вегасе и Санкт-Петербургского государственного университета приняли участие в данном диалоге. Вопросы и ответы американских и российских студентов приведены ниже.


Russian laws ban same-sex marriages.  Until recently, gay marriage was also against the law in America, but several states in the U.S. have now legalized gay and lesbian marriages.  Many Americans and Russians continue to oppose such unions, even though public opinion on this question has been changing rapidly in the United States.  According the national opinion poll conducted in March of 2014 by the Bloomberg News Agency, 55% of the Americans approve same-sex marriage, 36% disapprove it, and 9% have no opinion.  Attitudes toward gays and legal unions between gays and lesbians are more negative in Russia.  A public opinion study conducted by the Levada Center in January of 2005 produced the following results:  4% of Russian respondents fully approve of same-sex marriage, 10% partially approve of them, 17% partially approve and partially disapprove, 25% partially disapproved, 34% completely disapprove, and 10% didn’t have  an opinion.  In April of 2013, 35% of those polled in Russia considered homosexuality a disease, 43% saw homosexuality as a bad habit, 88% supported a ban on advocacy of same-sex relations.  Violence against people with a nontraditional sexual orientation remains a problem in American and Russia.

What is your attitude toward same-sex marriage?  Do you think members of the LGBT community have a right to express freely their views and enter in same-sex relationships?  And what can be done to stop violence against people with a nontraditional sexual orientation?

Answers (American Students)

Marriage is a basic right that should not be withheld to anyone regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation.  The question of whether same-sex marriage should be allowed reminds me of a not too distant time in our history when interracial marriage was illegal.  A landmark civil right decision by the Supreme Court in 1967 invalidated race-based legal restrictions on marriage and I believe it is only a matter of time before sexual orientation-based legal restrictions on marriages will be found to be unconstitutional as well.  Members of the LBGT community have every right to freely express their views and enter into same-sex relationships.  To impose any limit on those freedoms is against The Universal Declaration of Human Rights put forth by the United Nations as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.  Article 22 specifically states:  “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”  The ability for the LBGT to freely express their views and enter into same-sex relationships is a social and cultural right indispensable for dignity and the free development of personality.  And what can be done to stop violence against people with a nontraditional sexual orientation?  I believe education is the best way to stop violence against people with a nontraditional sexual orientation.  People fear what they do not understand and the more we learn about sexuality, the more comfortable we will be with the idea that sexuality can be expressed in more than just what we consider the traditional way.

Same sex marriage is a very controversial issue.  I personally believe that love is love.  There should be no discrimination despite race, religion, gender etc.  I also firmly believe that you cannot help who you fall in love with, it simply just happens.  However, I am a firm believer in God and I believe we should try our best to abide by what the Bible says.  The Bible does not explicitly mention same sex marriage.  At the same time it does condemn homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin.  Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is also always between a male and female.  With all that in mind, I know I am not perfect.  I know of all the Ten Commandments yet I still sin from time to time.  That is the amazing thing about the God I believe in.  He accepts you for who you are even after I sin.  So, I personally do not believe that same sex marriage should be made legal, but you cannot help who you fall in love with.

I have mixed feelings towards same-sex marriage for several reasons.  I was raised in the Christian church, and in Christianity homosexuality in viewed as an abomination toward God and not to mention a sin.  These are direct teachings from the Bible itself. Also my close cousin is a lesbian, she basically came out when she introduced her girlfriend to the family.  I already had an idea of her situation but I still love her unconditionally since she is a part of my family. I have plenty of friends that I grew up that happen to be gay, lesbian or bisexual. So I have no discrimination at all towards the LGBT community.  I do believe members of the LGBT community have the right to express freely their views and enter in same-sex relationships.  They are human beings that have blood in their veins and air in their lungs – so why make outcast out people who have different values?  We have laws that let people express themselves with speech and guns but not if it means loving the same sex.  This does not make much sense to me at all.  One should be able to show love for another person and share it with the world, whether it is a heterosexual or homosexual relationship.  To stop the violence against people with a nontraditional sexual orientation we should educate the young at an early age, to explain the youth that they are no different and thus prevent a brewing hate in the younger generation.  By confronting those committing violence against people with untraditional views we can help bridge the gap between communities.

My view on the LBGT community is very open.  Homosexuality has been a part of human history for thousands of years.  While many people have strong convictions against, this seems to be something that is biologically present in some humans.  I have heard many homosexuals say that they have been gay since they can remember, nothing pushed them or nothing influenced them, they just were born that way.  If this is true, then why can it not the case that they were truly born this way?  There are many medical cases where a child is born deformed or with conflicting genitals (hermaphrodite), if the fetus was not developed properly or had some kind of genetic error, so this can happen to someone’s innate sexual orientation.  I don’t think we can call it an error either, for it is the way the child was born and made.  In the religious context, god created the baby and thus it would be god’s creation.  I also think that this being the case, no one should take away rights of a person who is gay by birth, choice, or straight.  People should have the same privileges unless one acts against social norms and thus gives their own rights up by poor choice.  I also think that the LGBT community should voice and promote their views if they are being oppressed.  Education about people’s genetic make-up, psychological consequences, communal and individual freedoms can help the overall acceptance.  Studies show positive differences in children raised in lesbian or homosexual households.  For instance, Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz found in their work “How Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?” that children raised by lesbian or gay parents were more likely to aspire to be doctors, lawyers, engineers.  They also found that boys raised in such families were less aggressive.  And when they became younger adults, such children were no more likely to be gay bisexual or lesbian, which suggests that people are likely to be born gay or lesbian and have no control over their sexual orientation. With more education we shall be more open people and tolerant. 

I personally feel that consenting adults should be able to have intimate relationships with whoever they choose even if they are of the same sex.  But, I don't feel that same sex relationships need to have official marriages in sense of what is usually a marriage between a man and a woman with the purpose of procreating.  If same-sex couples want to have a monogamous and committed relationship they should be allowed to have a commitment ceremony.  They should also be able to have certain rights like being able to visit each other in the hospital.   There are legal measures that allow same sex couples to transfer rights and responsibilities to each other. I also feel that there should be strict laws to prevent violence and discrimination against people of the LGBT community.  Members of the LGBT community should be allowed to express their views and provide education to those 16 and older that seek their assistance.  I don't feel that the LGBT community has a right to take part in certain organizations like the boy scouts or take part in any parade that a city may allow unless they are invited.  Families should be able to discuss the LGBT community to their children if and when they decide, not because a court has determined that the LGBT community has a right to express their views on all other groups or classes of people like children.  

My attitude towards same sex marriage is that it should be legal. Everyone deserves to be with those they love and care for.  They have every right to their views and sexual orientations.  Love is love no matter who you love.  I believe we have come a far way in America, but other countries haven’t made it that far yet.  Russia seems like a country where discrimination and even violence against gay people is tolerated from what I’ve seen/heard.  So these antigay bills sort of make sense because of their conservative views as a country.  Still, I can’t believe that they have laws against “homosexual propaganda” as pornography in the year 2013.  They claim these laws are about “protecting children”, but are they really?  I think it is more of a way of stopping homosexuality, especially in public areas.  I’m not sure what the Russian president’s true motives are, but I doubt they are of good intentions.  It is sad to hear about the violent acts that are happening in Russia. I’m not sure what can be done to stop the violence when the authorities are against homosexuals too.  They need recognize everyone has rights.  After reading The New York Times articles I realized that Russia has a far way to go in this war of human rights.  Also, I enjoyed reading what Russians had to say about what was really happening in their country. 
I am not a gay activist, however I advocate human rights.  As a human being we all should be afforded the same rights of freedom, dignity, and right to happiness.  I do question the reason for same sex relationships since I was brought up on the religious belief of man and woman as a true couple.  Our society leads us to believe that we have certain rights under our constitution.  I do not believe that those rights should be dined because of a person’s sexual preference.  There are times when the Government should step into the personal lives of it citizens, under situations that harm others or under situations when the person cannot care for themselves.  Same sex marriages are not those cases that warrant intervention due to harm to oneself or to society.  As stated above, I am neutral when it comes to same sex marriages, but I do think all people have a right to choose their mates.  It is obviously a danger to others in our society if individuals with little or no understanding of certain cultures or behaviors decide to judge and punish such cultures and behaviors.  Authorities must place stiffer penalties on people who commit such acts of hate.  Just as we oppose bulling in schools, we should teach human rights.  If children are taught at an early age that people with different views and behavior from theirs are people too, perhaps this would start a generation of individuals sensitive to different people and their differences.   

This issue had never been of much concern to me until recently as I have come to acquire a number of gay friends and even a gay house-mate.  There are far more important issues for politicians and the public to address, such as equalizing the distribution of wealth, making health care affordable, and cleansing the political system from corporate lobbyists.  However I am sympathetic with the desire of same sex couples who are merely asking for the same recognition from the state for their emotional/economic partnerships (marriage) as granted to heterosexual couples.  The only argument why gay marriage should not be legal is a religious/cultural doctrine used by conservatives to enforce their beliefs on the rest of the country.  In a nation where no religion is allowed to dictate law, I see such attempts as unjust.  I felt pride when my home state legalized gay marriage – I thought, “Yes! Minnesotans, are enlightened, they are not bigots like those bible thumpers in the south.”  In America, we have a right to choose our lifestyles and no law should be enacted that target or hinder the sexual preferences of consenting adults.  Laws in Russia that suppress “advocacy” of homosexuality are the greatest threat to recognizing the rights of the LGBT community.  It is only through personal contact and open dialogue with gay individuals that heterosexuals can see that they are no different from themselves, except for their attraction to and desire for members of their same sex.  Laws passed in Russia aim to prevent precisely this.  Laws should prevent violence against gays, the discrimination against hiring and housing discrimination, as well as harassment and hate crimes (as America has in some states).  It is disturbing for gays to see there are countries actually headed in the opposite direction and enacting laws that do violence against gays in and of themselves.  They look at such nations and decide they have no desire to go there, and they are in fact terrified to go there.

I do not believe in same-sex marriages.  I know and believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman.  I also believe that everyone has their free agency, so therefore I believe people are free to make their own decisions and think the way they want, so members of the LGBT community do have the right to express their views.  I won't necessarily agree with them, but I respect everyone, gay, straight, lesbian, because everyone is human and is entitled to their own opinions and views.  With that said, I think violence against these people or the people involved in this issue need to stop.  Honestly I do not know what could be done, because I believe that there still will be violence regardless of what is being done.  Yes, having a method or law certainly can reduce the violence but not completely get rid of it.  Look at interracial couples –violence was at a high when a black and white partnership was allowed for marriage, but it has been reduced over the years.  Still there are racist views about this type of marriage.  Again, I state that I have no clue of what can be done to stop/reduce the violence.

It is my belief that non-traditional relationships and unions should be perfectly legal.  This is not a question of “values” or “traditions”, but one of civil rights.  The rights of people have been taken away throughout history.  This wish to control a portion of the population by means of laws and prejudice is simply a form of Jim Crowe, except instead of racial prejudice, it is prejudice against one’s sexual orientation.  The LGBT community has gained in numbers in more contemporary times, and definitely has acquired a strong political voice in the US.  The paradigm is also changing in the US in regards to the idea of legalizing gay marriage.  Of course, there is always radical opposition against anything that represents change, however the outlook for homo-sexual is positive.  In the US, it is acceptable to ‘show’ one’s sexual orientation proudly, and many cities have parades or festivals to facilitate pride in one’s sexual preferences.  In Russia, this is neither acceptable nor legal.  The right to express freely one’s sexual choices is the least what having ‘inalienable rights’ is about.  If government can impose penalties on people because of who they are, what is stopping the government from controlling everyone for the way they choose to represent themselves?   This is a huge infringement on civil rights.  Why is it necessary to meddle into people’s sexual preference?  We don’t look at heterosexual couples who may have “non-traditional” relationship, why would we let it happen to same-sex couples?  The point of democracy is to let each citizen live their lives as they wish within the confines of the laws set forth to protect. There is no need for laws oppressing same-sex couples.  They pose no threat to society.  These are simply citizens choosing an alternative lifestyle, in which is no governments or individuals’ business. 

My stand on gay marriage is that I believe every country should allow it. After watching the documentary last week, it’s troubling to see how countries can punish a person because of their sexual orientation. All men and women are created equal on this planet and everyone should accept their differences. Change is inevitable, and as times are changing we need to learn to acknowledge the differences. A man who chooses to sleep with another man should have the freedom without facing any consequences from the country he lives in.  No one should ever have the power to tell a man or woman who they can or can’t have sexual relations with.

I completely support same sex marriage.  In America we say that we are “free” we have the freedom to say what we want, to read what we want, why shouldn’t the same principles apply to love? I n a previous class I learned that originally marriage was a way to stop interracial marriages from happening.  When marriage licenses first came out they were only given to those marriages deemed fit, and it became a problem when the marriage license came with lucrative financial benefits.  A marriage license is rooted in segregation and hate towards a particular demographic, not in love.  If this were a different time I, an African American woman, would not be allowed to marry my Russian born boyfriend because of the differences in our skin.  This is the same thing happening with same sex marriage love knows no bounds, and members of the LGBT community should be able to express their love as any other people should.  A sad reality of our times is that violence will always occur, but education is the best way to try and reduce violence.  Education by speaking with someone of a nontraditional sexual orientation, or taking a class or doing research, hopefully, education will breed open mindedness and drastically reduce violence on this topic.

Gay marriage is a very controversial topic in today’s society. Being a heterosexual male I would never benefit from having these rights and therefore would have no reason to fight for them, but that does not mean I would fight to keep others from having the right to marry who they choose. Love is a special thing and it is not okay for someone to rule that a person cannot enjoy the benefits of love, no matter who they are with. I consider myself neutral and would never vote one way or another, because even though I don’t believe in gay marriage I would never diminish someone else’s chances to be a union with the person they love.

Seeing how much different our culture is compared to Russia was shocking.  I always thought our country was slow accepting gays and homosexuals into society, but Russian citizens really have it rough.  The anti-gay law is sickening to me.  I do believe that every person should be with whomever he or she wants to be with.  If that happens to be person of the same, it’s completely normal, as long as sex as they are following the law.  It was shocking to see in the video how many Soviet women had abortions.  I know the film was a little bit old, but seeing how much of a social norm abortions were is scary.  I believe that Russian government should not have the anti-gay laws.  More info will show that homosexuality has a basis in the brain and biology, that there is no choice who we are attracted to.  We are very lucky to live in a country that gives us a lot freedom on what we can do and choose compared to a country with censorship.  So far as anti-gay violence, I think the government should have laws against hate crimes.  People shouldn’t feel endangered because of their sexual orientation.  For the gay community, I would recommend that its members carry something to defend themselves with, for they have targets on their backs.

I have no attitude against same-sex marriage, as long as these non-traditional marriages do not require anything out of the ordinary, or have 'special' rules and requirements everyone else has to abide by, just because they are same-sex.  If same-sex people want to get married, then they should be required to follow the same rules and laws everyone else does.  There should be no 'special' treatment or any loopholes of law should they get divorced.  Child custody and alimony should apply equally the same as they do between male and female marriages.  I believe they have the right to express their views, but I do not believe they have the right to push their views on others, or to conform a Christian-based country, such as ours, into one that solely suits them.  I think everyone has to live together in peace, each part of the community and the people within its institutions should all give and take.  You can't please everyone, so those who are against their way of life need to give and be a little more understanding, but the LGBT needs to give and understand, as well.  Nobody is going to have it exactly the way they want it, but both sides of the issue need to meet in the middle.  The first thing to stop the violence would be to tell the LGBT community to back off.  When something new comes along, and seems to be pushed down people's throats, that is when pressure comes along, and that is when people panic and want to fight against whatever is different.  The LGBT community is very new, and very frightening to the conservative population. It is seen as a threat to their 'normal', cultural values.  This is especially true when you have the government sticking their noses in and 'making' people conform.  If they LGBT community would have started off with education, and gradually showed the majority conservative population they are not these scary freak-show people that the media portrays them to be, then you would have seen less violence. Education and bringing in the LGBT population gradually, showing the community they are still people, and just like everyone else, would have made the process a little less violent.  People are afraid of change, subtle interworking of the LGBT community is the best way to keep fears down.

My attitude towards same-sex marriage has a lot to do with what my parent’s approach towards it in how I was raised as a child.  I grew up in a town in Orange County that is renowned for its art community and for being a gay-friendly enclave. But, on the other side of all this tolerance being the norm behavior where I grew up, my family had an active membership in the LDS church.  With proposition 8 in California, the church told leading role to rally all the members in order to squash it.  I hadn’t been an active member for some years before this, but this for me was upsetting.  Because of the town we were in, our particular ward seemed to have a different attitude, although this was not much discussed or spoken about.  For an example, a shocking but very good teaching moment for most anyone who looked at homosexuality in a negative context that was common in conservative religions such as the LDS was when a man that had been an undisputed image of a model church member, left the church after he revealed that he was a gay man.  This was a man who was a hugely valuable asset to the church community, so his decision to become public was not one he could have made easily.  I believe this was one of the bigger impacts on my own parent’s attitude towards same-sex relationships.  Another was that the neighbors next door to us for many years were two men that had been in their same-sex relationship for well over 20 years.  I think that this was a major factor in shaping my view of same-sex marriage as an adult.

I am pro-marriage for any couple that wants to make the commitment. I do not at all agree with the stance the church I grew up in has made. I tend to be careful of who I reveal my religious background to, in order to prevent possibility of a perception of hostility or insensitivity.  I think the legal aspect of same-sex marriage is very important and that is why purely ceremonial or spiritual unions do not suffice. There are certain protections that are provided only for a legally married couple, such as medical power of attorney or parental custody, which two people should be able to have with each other without all this guff.  As tolerant as I try to be, I admit that in the past I’ve experienced some situations where I’ve been insensitive regarding same-sex couples, by putting my foot in my mouth.  I was not meaning to be offensive by throwing around “gay” as a sort of put down very nonchalantly, but nonetheless it was not only completely unnecessary to convey what I wanted to say, but it was ignorant on my part.  I have better insight now that this shouldn’t be a word used to insult someone else, because it shouldn’t be considered a negative thing to identify oneself as gay.  But that involves a shift of our society that passing a law will not achieve.

They have the right to express whatever they feel they want to express.  I don’t like that the government takes this problem of a minority into the majority of the population.  Of course they have the right to express themselves.  But in France where they recently legalized gay marriage, there wasn’t any discrimination before the law had passed.  A minor issue was made into a problem for the majority of the population.  In France, there is an atmosphere of acceptance and the law doesn’t change very much anyway.  Gay marriage is against traditional marriage.  There is a religious and a government side to it.  They can of course love each other, I’m not against this, but they try to come into a public place and this is against the traditional marriage which is between a man and a woman.  It’s not that they cannot love each other, but they can’t get married because that’s a religious thing.  They can do how they want in private.  Your religion should stay inside your house.

There is a difference between Armenians that now live outside of the country vs. Armenians that still currently live inside the country.  My family has been outside of the country for some years now, so we cannot act as an accurate representation of all Armenians of course.  But, Armenians still have a very traditional way of thinking. We continue to preserve attitudes because we are a very proud culture.  We don’t like when whatever the current event or idea of the moment might be, to change the way we are.  We continue to have a very strong traditional familial structure.  I think it may be hard to be gay in Armenia.  I’m sure there are many living there and maybe also some gay culture, but they aren’t as out in the open and keep it private and out of the public space.  There is an old shame attitude that you cannot show in public as you wish because you are a representation of your family and our religious background.  There is something like a code amongst us all; you represent your name, your family, your culture.  My behavior impacts the perception people have of Armenians and their culture.  And this view is absolutely impacted by religion for Armenians.

I feel as if I am confused on what my opinion should be.  I have a gay friend whom I love dearly; he is one of my best friends.  I have no problem with him or any other males being a homosexual.  However, when it comes to females, I have mixed feelings.  I feel a bit disgusted when I see two females showing affection in public.  I am not sure why this inconsistency, possibly because I am a female.  I don’t oppose same sex marriage, however.  Homosexuals should be free to marry and divorce just like a heterosexual person can.  Homosexuals do not harm anyone by their sexual preference and if it makes them happy why not?  Everyone deserves and should be allowed to be happy.  I am aware that my own views against lesbians need to change.  They are free to express their love in public because they don’t hurt anyone by doing so.  Why is it “normal” for a male and female to show affection in public but not for homosexuals?  As a society, we need to change our views and treat everyone equally.  Once society changes the view on same sex gender and finally learns to accept and respect these relationships, the violence will stop.  I believe that education regarding this subject should be take place in school, children need to learn that it is okay for a person to be a homosexual.  As I was growing up, my parents made comments regarding their negative views towards homosexuals, and I grew up thinking that was what I had to believe.  It wasn’t until I went into college and learned to have a more open mind that I realized that there was nothing wrong with homosexuals.  It is society and its negative beliefs about homosexuals that are wrong.


Браки между однополыми партнерами запрещены российским законодательством.  В Америке они также были вне закона до последнего времени, и только совсем недавно однополые браки были разрешены в нескольких штатах Америки.  Многие Россияне и Американцы продолжают выступать против легализации таких браков, хотя общественное мнение американцев по этому вопросу быстро меняется.  Согласно национальному опросу, проведенному в октябре 2013 году агентством Блумберга, 55% респондентов в США одобряют same sex marriage, 36% его осуждают, и 9% не имеют по этому поводу определенного мнения.  В России отношение к геям и однополым бракам более отрицательное.  Согласно опросу Левада Центра, в январе 2005 года 4% россиян полностью одобряли однополые браки, 10% частично одобряли, 17% их частично одобряли и частично не одобряли, 25% частично не одобряли, 34% полностью не одобряли, и 10% затруднялись ответить.  В апреле 2013 года 35% россиян считали гомосексуализм болезнью, 43% вдели в однополых отношениях результат дурной привычки, и 88% подержали закон запрещающий пропаганду однополых сексуальных отношений.  Насилие портив людей с нетрадиционной сексуальной ориентацией остается проблемой и в Америке и в России. 

Как вы относитесь к легализации однополых браков?  Имеют ли члены ЛГБТ групп право свободно выражать свои взгляды и вступать в гомосексуальные отношения?  И что нужно сделать, чтобы остановить насилие над людьми с нетрадиционной сексуальной ориентацией?

Ответы (Российские студенты)

Эта тема вызывает у меня сильную эмоциональную реакцию.  Речь идет об элементарной толерантности, которой в России просто не существует.  Я считаю, что пока в нашей стране есть законы, не только запрещающие однополые браки, но и ущемляющие фундаментальные права человека исходя из его ориентации, Россия никогда не сможет быть европейской страной.  Государство провоцирует дискриминацию членов ЛГТБ-групп, прикрываясь идеями о защите детей от пагубного влияния.  Почему-то считается, что увиденные ребенком проявления гомосексуальных отношений нанесут ему большую психологическую травму, чем насилие внутри семьи.  Низкий уровень образованности людей вкупе с пропагандой со стороны государства приводит к тому, что многие россияне считают гомосексуализм болезнью, психическим отклонением, и реагируют на его проявления очень агрессивно.  Такая дискриминация ничем не отличается от дискриминации по религиозному или расовому признаку.  Гомосексуалисты ничем не отличаются от натуралов, поэтому они должны иметь все те же права, какие имеет любой человек, в том числе право выражать свои взгляды.  Трудно поверить, что гомосексуалисты, открыто демонстрирующие свои отношения, могут причинить какой-либо вред кому угодно, в том числе детям.  Как можно говорить о том, чтобы остановить насилие над людьми гомосексуальной ориентации, пока в нашей стране есть представители власти, открыто осуждающие их, и нелепые законы, которые повсеместно транслируют ненависть к членам ЛГТБ-сообщества?!  Если не изменить отношение властей к этому вопросу, в России никогда не будет толерантного общества.

Моя позиция по поводу однополых браков однозначна:  я считаю необходимой их легализацию.  Также необходимым я считаю разрешение усыновления детей однополыми парами.  Взаимная любовь прекрасна, достойна уважения и поддержки, вне зависимости от половой, расовой и возрастной принадлежности любящих.  Равенство людей в их праве на счастье, любовь и семью – то, за что можно и нужно бороться.  Однако, я понимаю, что большая часть российского обществ не готова к такому шагу.  Резкое принятие подобных законов было бы шоком для населения.  С другой стороны, тенденции последнего времени, демонстрирующие резко отрицательное отношение властей к сексуальным меньшинствам, я рассматриваю исключительно как преступление против прав человека, совершаемое на государственном уровне.  Это ужасно, и это – путь в никуда, путь к средневековью,  а не к современному развитому демократическому обществу.  Положительный отклик на столь негуманную политику со стороны людей говорит исключительно об их жестокости, основанной на серости и закостенелости взглядов.  На борьбу именно с этим должны быть направлены силы правозащитников.  Однако, любая деятельность по ликвидации серости в этом вопросе сейчас, к несчастью, подпадает под закон об агитации…  Сексуальные меньшинства и сочувствующие им люди, стремящиеся к равенству в праве на счастье людей, загнаны в угол в нашей стране.  Что можно сказать о государстве, в котором, на законодательном уровне гомосексуализм практически приравнен по противоправности к педофилии…  Такому государству можно только посочувствовать.  Что можно сделать с этим?  Вести ежедневную личную борьбу за сознания и души людей, пытаясь смягчить их, снизить градус зачерствелого пуританизма.

Поддерживаю легализацию браков и права ЛГБТ.  Чтобы остановить насилие, нужно препятствовать стигматизации этих групп.  В том числе и посредством языка, например, распространенный в русском языке термин «нетрадиционная ориентация» уже некорректен. Защита прав ЛГБТ(К) на уровне закона определенно снизила бы уровень насилия.  Подразумевается не только право на брак, но и защита от дискриминации на работе, а также признание гомофобного мотива отягчающим обстоятельством при совершении преступлений.  Важно и информирование – борьба с мифами и стереотипами – в том числе в среде самих ЛГБТ.  Человек, находящийся в согласии с собой, способен лучше противостоять насилию – как физическому, так и психическому и сильнее ощущает связь с сообществом.  Это могло бы снизить количество самоубийств среди ЛГБТ(К).  Кроме того, интернализированная гомофобия тоже приводит к всплескам агрессии. К сожалению, когда сами власти поощряют насилие и используют для этого мощные медиа-ресурсы, переломить ситуацию невозможно.

У меня есть стойкое понимание того, что общественность России вместе с государственными чиновниками, активно выступающими против легализации подобных отношений, хранит внутри себя какие-то комплексы, связанные с неуверенностью в себе. Они боятся, видимо, того, что подобные браки, если их разрешить, буду иметь огромный успех у населения, что незамедлительно приведет к вырождению нации. Консервативно настроенная часть русского общество, коих, признаться, большинство, напуганы, они во многом боятся проявлений социальной свободы. Мне кажется, что, если у общества возникает какой-то страх (причем, неосознанный), то это неминуемо характеризует болезненность самого общества. Я считаю, что если мы уверены в себе и ничего не боимся, нам и не страшна свобода. Прогрессивное общество стремится к расширению свобод, к росту плюрализма. Об этом свидетельствует общая историческая динамика: по спирали вверх.                                                                     

В России царит атмосфера страха, на котором и зиждется власть. Любовь подменена на страх. Это, пожалуй, главный принцип, на котором строится российская традиция правления и социальной организации. Власть имущие, прикрываясь вековой традицией, выступают против реальной демократизации для сохранения собственного авторитета. Россия, по прежнему остается страной рабов и господ, «сотрудничество», которых держится, как я уже сказал, не на любви, но на страхе. Это формулируется в социальной среде под заочную диктовку государства, ибо государство так или иначе оставляет за собой право не только принимать те или иные законы, но и посредством контролируемых СМИ создавать ту или иную интеллектуально-нравственную атмосферу, задавая общий тон нравов.                                                                                                                               
Поскольку однополые отношения находятся в зародышевом состоянии своей легитимности, не только в России, но и во всем мире, нам необходимо сделать так, чтобы государство признало и защищало права однополых пар.  Без поддержки государства тут приходиться трудно. Разница между первым и вторым случаем в том, что первый случай, случай насилия внутри семьи, имеет очень долгую историю и чисто семейную психологию, которая уже состоялось, но имеет свои отклонения.  Государство не может полностью контролировать, грубо говоря, человеческие страсти.  Но оно может помочь узаконить вид отношений, которые очевидно нуждаются в поддержки с его стороны.  Тут во втором случае как раз необходимо сделать упор на необходимость государственной опеки таких отношений, если государственная политическая система осознает себя, как либерально-демократическую.  Мы должны планомерно двигаться к развитию всевозможных свобод, которые не провоцировали бы агрессии.  Государство должно заботиться не только созданием дисциплины, но и поощрять положительные тенденции, которые в будущем могли бы привести к безболезненному самоупразднению всех рычагов управления в мире, создающих неравенство в мире равных. Сама тематика данного дискурса подтолкнула меня к мыслям поговорить так же о легализации лёгких наркотиков (марихуаны), оружия (в целях самозащиты) и эвтаназии (для безнадежно больных). Все эти варианты, так же могут беспокоить консервативное государство, так как ведут к упразднению роли власти в той или иной степени (и большей ориентации на развитие самосознания каждого отдельно взятого гражданина) вплоть до «безболезненного упразднения», но так же способствуют развитию прав человека на самоопределение.

С другой стороны, в России нет какого-либо преследования пар гомосексуалистов или лесбиянок, как это видится многим парламентариям и поп-звездам зарубежья. Я хочу сказать, что «люди нетрадиционной ориентации» преспокойно могут существовать и поддерживать свои отношения без узаконивания. Так же они могут быть подвержены агрессии (или же ярой критике) со стороны «традиционно-ориентированной» в половом вопросе общественности, если гомосексуалистская пара будет целоваться, например, в общественном транспорте, да и в любом другом общественном заведении. Однако, большая часть молодежи, демократически настроенной, жители Петербурга или Москвы, как правило, лояльно относятся к проявлениям однополой любви. Но если такая парочка попадется навстречу стайке каких-нибудь наших аналогов rednecks, то им лучше не демонстрировать свое отношение друг к другу в форме любовных утех.                      

Answers (Russian Students)

I have a strong emotional reaction to this subject.  It is a matter of elementary tolerance, which is absent in Russia.  As long as we have in our country laws prohibiting same-sex marriage and violating human rights, Russia cannot be a European nation.  The state discriminates against members of the LGBT community, citing the concern for the damage that its ideas could inflict on children.  Somehow violence inside the family is deemed to be less damaging to the child than the exposure to homosexual relations.  A low level of education in our country is exacerbated by the state propaganda, which explains why many in Russia see homosexuality as a disease and psychological deviation and respond very aggressively to its manifestations.  This form of discrimination is no different from the discrimination based on religious beliefs or racial characteristics.  Homosexuals are no different from people with the traditional orientation, and thus they must have the same rights as everyone else, including the right to speak freely.  It is hard to believe that homosexuals openly stating their preferences will harm anyone, including children.  How can you possibly stop anti-gay violence when our authorities openly condemn people with a nontraditional sexual orientation and stupid laws that instill hatred toward members of the LGBT community?  Until the official attitude toward this issue hasn’t changed, we shall not have a tolerant society.

My position on same-sex marriage is clear – I think it is necessary to legalize such marriages.  It is also necessary to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.  Love is a beautiful thing and deserves praise regardless of the sexual, racial or age characteristics of those in love.  People have equal rights to happiness, love and family, and we need to fight for this right.  However, I understand that the majority of Russian society is not ready for that.  To pass such laws cold turkey would be a shock to our people.  At the same time, I consider our government’s very negative attitude toward sexual minorities to be a crime against human rights.  This is terrible, really a dead end.  This path leads us back to the medieval time and not toward a democratic society.  Those supporting such inhumane laws reveal their cruelty, lack of education and backward views.  Human rights activists should fight such views.  Sadly, any such human rights activism would be suppressed under the current laws banning propaganda of same-sex relations.  Sexual minorities and those sympathizing with their plight and fighting for their rights are now pushed against the wall in our country.  What can you say about the state that, on the legislative level, equates homosexuality with pedophilia?  One can only pity such a state.  And what can we do in such situation?  Fight everyday for minds and souls of people, try to humanize them, and push back Puritanism.

I support legalization of same-sex marriages and recognition of the LGBT rights.  To stop violence, we have to end stigmatization of such groups.  That includes correcting the questionable usage of the terms like “nontraditional orientation” which is already discriminatory.  To recognize the LGBT rights at the legislative level would help decrease the violence.  This means not only the recognition of the rights to marriage but also protection in the workplace and the designation of the homophobic motive as an aggravating factor in crime.  Education, countering the myths and stereotypes, is important, including education among the LGBT members.  Individuals at peace with themselves are better equipped to counter violence, physical as well as psychological, once they sense the community behind them.  Such campaign would help cut suicide rates among the LGBT folks, for internalized homophobia can also lead to aggression.  Unfortunately, when the authorities themselves condone violence and use the powerful media resources to back them up, it is hard to change the situation. 

It is my opinion that the Russian public along with the state officials actively opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage harbor psychological complexes that bespeak insecurity.  They seem to think that once legalized, such unions will be hugely popular and lead to the extinction of our nation.  The conservative part of Russian society fearful of same-sex relations is also afraid of social liberties in general.  The unconscious fear gripping society shows that this society is unwell.  If we are sure of ourselves, we won’t be afraid of freedom.  Progressive humankind longs to expand freedom and pluralism.  This is what the historical dynamics reveals – it is the movement of an upward-bound spiral. 

Russia is suffused with fear that nourishes the state power.  Love is supplanted with fear, and this is the tradition of government and social organization in Russia.  Backed up by this tradition, the authorities are opposed to real democratization that can challenge their supremacy.  Russia is still the country of slaves and masters whose “cooperation” is based not on love but fear.  Public opinion is controlled by the government that writes the laws and uses mass media to maintain the moral and intellectual climate in the country.

Same-sex relations are only beginning to be recognized not only in this country but in the world, and so we need to compel the government to protect the rights of same-sex couples.  It is hard to do without state support in this area.  There is a long history of domestic violence rooted in the family psychology, and it may be difficult for the government to control intra-family relations, even though it can help mitigate the situation.  When it comes to same-sex marriage, on the other hand, the government can protect such relations – if the government politics is based on liberal-democratic values.  We must steadily expand all those freedoms that do not provoke aggression.  Government ought to not just maintain order, but it also fortifies the positive trends that will eventually lead to the elimination of the coercion breeding inequality among equals.  This discussion prompted me to think that we need also to legalize the use of light drugs like marijuana, weapons for self-defense, and euthanasia for terminally ill.  Such matters are sure to raise fears in a conservative state and its citizens, but they also advance the person’s right to self-determination.

At the same time, I wish to point out that homosexual and lesbian couples are not persecuted in our country, as many parliamentarians and celebrities residing in other countries believe.  People with “nontraditional sexual orientation” can sustain their relations without the legalization.  It is true that they can be attacked physically or verbally by the “”traditionally-oriented” part of society when a homosexual couple is making out in public, say, in a public transportation system.  But the majority of the democratically-minded youth in St. Petersburg and Moscow are usually tolerant of same-sex love.  Still, if such pairs are in the vicinity of our rednecks, it is better for them not to advertise their love making.

Suggested Readings:

Harvey Fierstein, Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown. The New York Times. July 21, 2013.
David Herszenhorn, Gays in Russia Find No Haven, Despite Support From the West. The New York Times. April 11, 2013.
Александр Щелкин, “Нетрадиционная сексуальность (опыт социологического анализа)”. Социологические исследования, 2013, № 6
Дарья Варламова, “7 научных фактов о гомосексуальности”. Большой город, 14.2.2013.
Владимир Абаринов. Целомудрие по-американски. Радио Свобода, 28 Марта, 2014.
Федеральный закон о запрете пропаганды среди детей нетрадиционных сексуальных отношений, June 29, 2013.

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