NYT Editorial: “Mr. Putin’s War on Gays”

LOTS of news in the past 24 hours about our community-wide, and now worldwide, boycott of Russian vodka, particularly Stolichnaya, following Russia’s horrific, violent crackdown and gay and trans people. #dumpstoli


I’ll be getting to some of the other updates later today, including slews of gay bars, worldwide, now banning Russian vodak.  But first, an editorial from the NYT blasting Putin over his anti-gay pogrom.

As the NYT notes, the attacks on gays are part of a larger authoritarian crackdown on anyone and everyone, from dissidents, to journalists, to businessmen.

To the long list of Russians whom President Vladimir Putin is persecuting, add gay people and those who support gay rights. Along with political dissidents, journalists and billionaire businessmen, they are increasingly the focus of repellent laws and repressive practices that could send them, and anyone who dares defend them, to jail.

For some time, antigay sentiment has been spreading in Russia’s conservative society, encouraged by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church. But Mr. Putin and his government have taken that to a new level by legitimizing the hatemongering in legislation.

Earlier this month, he signed a law banning the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples and to any couple or single parent living in any country where marriage equality exists. Last month, Mr. Putin signed a law allowing the police to arrest tourists and foreigners suspected of being gay or pro-gay and detain them for up to 14 days. He also signed a bill classifying “homosexual” propaganda as pornography with vague wording that could subject anyone arguing for tolerance or educating children about homosexuality to arrest and fines.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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53 Responses to “NYT Editorial: “Mr. Putin’s War on Gays””

  1. Jim Balter says:

    The Stolichnaya boycott is totally wrongheaded since it is made in Latvia by an LGBT-friendly company.

  2. martin says:


  3. Sterling Ericsson says:

    So now you’re only going after Stoli? What the hell, Americablog? Is this just hate on our allies day? You do realize that the Stoli we drink and the Stoli sold in Russia are under two different companies now, right, since Russia sued the Stoli that was our ally and made it so only the Russian government could sell Stoli inside of Russia?

    You’re only hurting our community.

    Maybe you should be focusing on the neo-Nazi groups that are being allowed to roam free attacking LGBT youths and even having them be arrested (somehow).

    Feel free to watch. WARNING: GRAPHIC.


  4. Fred says:

    Putin just divorced his wife of 29 years. He is becoming more of a demagogue. He is emulating Ivan the Terrible by becoming Tsar Putin the Horrible by his side the faithful Patriarch Kirill. Together they cook up a cauldron of misery LGBTs and other minorities. Russia of the Tsars, Russia of Stalin, Russia of Tsar Putin & Patriarch Kirill are the same record different label. Boycott the games….

  5. karmanot says:

    Come to think of it, we could boycott magic markers and ruin the Russian cosmetics industry.

  6. caphillprof says:

    The Soviets did a good job of forcing Jews out of Russia, so I suppose it’s better to pick on gays this time around. Such a pathetic people.

  7. karmanot says:

    Hey down-arrow why don’t you send a lick-spit fan letter to Mz Rachel and let her know you support gay apartheid in Russia.

  8. karmanot says:

    We could boycott burlap and flour sacks thus destroying the Russian fashion industry.

  9. BloggerDave says:

    putin is a mother fucker….

  10. FLL says:

    If you live south of Orlando or east of Tampa, that does get a little rednecky, I suppose. Orlando and Tampa are pretty cool, but I like living in Fort Lauderdale.

  11. FLL says:

    The last time that was a problem was when Jim Naugle was mayor of Fort Lauderdale (1991-2009). He was finally replaced by a much saner mayor.

  12. kurtsteinbach says:

    Remember he said he looked into Putin’s eyes and said he saw Putin’s soul. I would have bet and still would bet that if one looked into Putin’s eyes, you would see what Bill Maher said, black KGB deadness from all of Putin’s victims. Putin has simply racked up many more victims since them. There is a special ring of hell in Dante’s Inferno for guys like Putin and their enablers like Dubya….

  13. kurtsteinbach says:

    I think they meant Russian Vodka…. think Everclear with less taste….

  14. kurtsteinbach says:

    There is very little difference between Putin and the Soviet Kommisars of old. People forget that the Russians Orthodox Church is and was just as fundamentalist as our fundamentalists. We just laughed and made fun of ours. Just because Russia ceased being an enemy when the Soviet Union collapsed, does not mean they became a friend. They should have kept Gorbachev as leader, then Yeltsin, Putin was a mistake. He came and has never left. Unlike Dubya, most people look into Putin’s eyes and see his victims and the KGB deadness that claimed his poor excuse for a soul long ago….

  15. karmanot says:


  16. Monoceros Forth says:

    Indeed. It’s like the fundie right-wingers’ heavy support of murderous anti-GLBT laws in Uganda. If they could, they’d do the same here–in a New York minute.

  17. Monoceros Forth says:

    I know this is getting rather well off the topic but the mention of Card and the upcoming release of the Ender’s Game movie has had me thinking about Card. Ender’s Game fascinated me in my teens, I’ll fully admit, and when some years later I heard that there was some chance of a movie adaptation I was intrigued and curious to see how it would turn out. Now, though…my partner, who is usually rather blase and resigned about such matters, has sworn he’ll not help contribute a dime to Card’s bank account and despite my curiosity (lessened of late but still there) I have to agree with him on this.

  18. mike31c says:

    Sad and pathetic that the ONLY thing worth boycotting from the Russian Pigs is that swill vodka.

  19. Blogvader says:

    Russia’s actions are emblematic of what fringe Christians would love to see in the USA.

    Here’s hoping enough progressives get off their asses and vote for real liberals in the mid-terms.

  20. Indigo says:

    True that. I gave up on trying to read his work, his writing style is too stilted for my taste.

  21. Indigo says:

    Just so she doesn’t go off on a riff about how boycotts hurt the little people.

  22. Indigo says:

    Oddly enough, for all the rabid laws on the books here, the gay folks I know here go about our days smoothly enough and with little disruption. But then, as you might have suspected, it takes a lot of “fairy dust” to keep Disneylandia running.

  23. Monoceros Forth says:

    To be fair, Orson Card has always been completely incapable of writing under-aged boy characters who actually sound or behave like under-aged boys.

  24. Indigo says:

    Not as far as I know but that’s 150 miles further south and 90 degrees more liberal that CenFla.

  25. jared says:

    An eye for an eye…. really brilliant!

  26. Badgerite says:

    It is really horrifying to me, as an American, to think that if I were in Russia, I could not even say what my conscience and my heart tells me is true. I grew to maturity in a land where the Four Freedoms outlined by FDR ( Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear) at least in my life, were real aspects of my existence. I am aware that that was not and is not the experience of all Americans, YET, but nonetheless, America has never ‘thrown in the towel’ on trying to achieve these basic values. America has turned a ‘blind eye’ to a lot of what has gone on in Putin’s Russia. I think that needs to stop.

  27. PeteWa says:

    or Baton Rougebinsk.

  28. karmanot says:

    Yep, Mz Maddow hasn’t said a peep so far.

  29. karmanot says:

    Stand Your Gay……. That’s Florida for you.

  30. Hue-Man says:

    Getting the mainstream media and public to notice was exactly why I supported the “vodak” boycotts – so often what is a major issue in Gay World doesn’t even warrant a mention in the general media, much less make any impression on Straight World. If the media were listening, we wouldn’t see the anti-gay hate group leaders on TV, except as an expose of how they ignore laws and court orders in furtherance of their hate.

  31. karmanot says:

    I think that the strategy of constant ‘shaming’ and PR will have a greater effect than the actual economic boycott. Humiliating Russia as a regressive third world backwater will have Putin looking ridiculous. Satire—ridicule—jokes….

  32. karmanot says:

    Yes it is. We used it on our blog. We are promoting local towns to create a “Russia Free Zone.” until the IOC responds to it’s own charter of human rights.

  33. Bill_Perdue says:

    register at http://www.gayrussia.eu/

  34. karmanot says:

    You vant evidence Natasha, lookink in morgue.

  35. JP_Melle says:

    This makes it seem like this virulent anti-gay sentiment is part of a large anti-dissident movement. Obviously the use of a divisive social cause by the dominant party is nothing new, but is there also evidence that these anti-gay laws are being used specifically to ‘smear’ dissidents by charging them with gay? I suspect it’s happening, but is there evidence?

  36. Moderator3 says:

    Great editorial. I’m not sure if everyone knows that. Thank you.

  37. Ninong says:

    Remember the first time “W” Bush met Putin? Bush talked about Putin wearing a small gold cross on a chain around his neck. That was the time he looked into Putin’s eyes and knew that he was dealing with a nice guy, or whatever. They drove some old car that Putin had restored around Putin’s country dacha somewhere.

    It was the gold cross that convinced “W” that Putin was a nice guy. I think the gold cross was just part of Putin’s act.

  38. Ninong says:

    What about Fort Lauderdale? Are they still busting gay guys right and left down there or do they have a new sheriff? Or police chief, or whatever? I remember reading that the local cops were busting gays right and left. Kinda strange for a place like that considering all the gay establishments.

  39. Ninong says:

    Even before Lawrence the arrests for violations of the crime-against-nature laws were selective and punitive. More often than not the arresting officer(s) accepted bribes to forgive and forget. The size of the bribes went up dramatically if the arrestee was a closeted, married, local professional. Then, of course, there were those arrests that they actually did make to sort of fill their quota.

    I know guys who were arrested back in the 1950’s and ’60’s whose names actually appeared in the local papers. One guy told me the attorney told him it would cost him $3,000 to make it go away: $1,000 for the attorney, $1,000 for the DA and $1,000 for the judge. That was back in 1959. The charges were dropped. Everyone where he worked knew about his arrest but everybody already knew he was gay so it wasn’t like he was a closeted married family man or anything like that.

    A married man, father of five, who was the head coach of a large boys Catholic high school was busted with a teenage boy in the back of his station wagon in a local park and it made the front page of the local papers. The local archbishop sent him to one of those places they used to sent priests with that problem so that he could be “cured.” He lost his coaching job. I don’t remember if they gave him some other job or not.

    The entrapment techniques they employed back in the ’50’s and ’60’s were well known. For bait they always used one of their young rookies just out of the police academy who posed as a hustler. He was wired so that conversations were recorded. There was always a second plainclothes cop somewhere nearby observing the action.

    Nowadays they still arrest guys using entrapment techniques but only in a few really homophobic jurisdictions. A lot of it is caused by local homophobic fundie types who file complaints with the sheriff about gays cruising their picnic area or whatever. Then they can say they were just doing their job in responding to complaints. Some parts of Louisiana are more homophobic than others but that’s true throughout the South. The more bible-belty an area is the more homophobic it will be.

  40. Ciro Galli says:

    what is vodak?

  41. S1AMER says:

    Yes indeed! I almost cheered when I saw the Times editorial this morning!

    Oh, and the first section piece about Putin sucking up to the clerics, in part through gay-bashing, was also a good thing to see.

    Let’s hope we see much, much more attention to Putin’s political use of homophobia in the coming months. Today’s NYT was definitely a good start!

  42. Indigo says:

    Good one!

  43. Indigo says:

    Harassment by vigilantes with badges. Here in Florida, a casual pick-up from a public place like that could end in murdering the gay guy in “self-defense.”

  44. Indigo says:

    I am somewhat concerned about gay people in Russia but without direct contact with any of them, I have no way of knowing how they are managing their lives during this crisis.

  45. Indigo says:

    As far as I know, there’s no difference.

  46. Houndentenor says:

    I’m waiting for them to explain how Putin’s positions are any different from Orson Scott Card’s, except that Putin has the power to implement his bigotry.

  47. cole3244 says:

    what the gay community is doing in russia is the definition of courage.

  48. FLL says:

    These arrests are simply a form of harassment. No district attorney’s office anywhere (including the district attorney’s office in Baton Rouge) would consider prosecution based on a law that was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2003. It is up to the U.S. attorney general (Eric Holder) to issue some guidelines to local law enforcement. (Ahem.)

  49. FLL says:

    This is already proof that the boycott has engendered PR success in Western countries (and probably East Asia too). This is the first and most important goal of any boycott. Will the repressive regime in question react to the boycott itself? Consider three examples:

    (1) The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-1956. This was completely successful because the targeted entity was a bus company that relied heavily on African-American customers for its revenue. By December, 1956, the City of Montgomery passed an ordinance allowing passengers to sit anywhere they wanted.

    (2) The boycott of French products in the U.S. during 2003. This was a failure, and the effect on U.S.-France trade was negligible. Why? If the primary goal of a boycott is to spread public awareness of an alleged wrong committed by some government or privately owned company, then the boycott of French products was counter-intuitive. The French government wasn’t doing anything wrong. They simply balked at supporting George W. Bush’s obsession with invading Iraq.

    (3) The current boycott of Russian vodka. This example is different from either of the first two examples above. As far as the primary goal of spreading public awareness of an alleged wrong, this boycott has been immediately and wildly successful. The reason is the obvious comparison with the boycott of French products in 2003. Unlike the case with France during 2003, the Russian government is doing something profoundly wrong, and the public, worldwide, is responding. As far as the Russian government responding to the boycott itself, the Russian government in 2013 is a much more difficult target than the Montgomery Bus Company was in 1955. This is simply because the economic sting to the Russian economy may not be as pronounced as a boycott that temporarily crippled the Montgomery Bus Company. What the Russian government may respond to are further actions that result in response to the new public awareness that the boycott is creating. Sympathetic European governments (or even governments in the Western Hemisphere or East Asia) may initiate concrete and embarrassing actions of their own against Russia, actions which may indeed influence the Russian government. Finally, there is the specter of public, humiliating publicity in conjunction with the Winter Olympics.

  50. BeccaM says:

    In tangentially-related news, apparently the sheriff’s department of Baton Rouge, Louisiana has decided they’re not bound by the United States Constitution or Supreme Court rulings, to wit, Lawrence v. Texas.

    As the two men moved their chat to a picnic table, the deputy propositioned his target with “some drinks and some fun” back at his place, later inquiring whether the man had any condoms, according to court records. After following the deputy to a nearby apartment, the man was handcuffed and booked into Parish Prison on a single count of attempted crime against nature.

    There had been no sex-for-money deal between the two. The men did not agree to have sex in the park, a public place. And the count against the man was based on a part of Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a decade ago.

    (hat-tip, ThinkProgress)

    These arrests are entirely punitive, in that the men arrested, booked, and have a bond set by one or more complicit bigoted judges, they eventually are never charged — because the District Attorney already knows there is no prosecutable crime. As a consequence, there’s no ability to file a court case to stop the practice.

  51. Bill_Perdue says:

    Our brothers and sisters in the former USSR and Warsaw Pact countries have incredible courage.

    It’s good of the NY Times to editorialized against Russian oppression. Now’s the time to build an international defense campaign with demonstrations, petitions, soliciting endorsements for free speech and getting LGBT groups, national and international, to demand recognition by the Russian government of our right to demonstrate and organize.

    As Peter Tatchell reported on earlier demonstrations in Moscow “We witnessed a high level of fraternisation and collusion between neo-Nazis and the Moscow police. I saw neo-Nazis leave and re-enter police buses parked on Tverskaya Street by City Hall. Our suspicion is that many of the neo-Nazis were actually plainclothes police officers, who did to us what their uniformed colleagues dared not do in front of the world’s media. Either that, or the police were actively facilitating the right-wing extremists with transport to the protest.”

    The courage and combativeness of our Russian brothers and sisters are shining examples for other sectors of Russian society anxious to break the shackles of
    a society still largely ruled by Stalinists and gangster capitalists, who, irrespective of their pretenses, have always been a right wing party. It’s a wonder that the USSR survived as long as it did because the regime they
    instituted after defeating and murdering the Bolsheviks was corrupt and inept beyond belief.

    The difference between pre and post Stalinist Russia is that corruption, neo-fascist thuggery, racism and bigotry are now practiced by capitalists instead of bureaucrats.

  52. BeccaM says:

    It’s good finally to see the mainstream media beginning to notice.

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