Putin’s NYT Syria op ed is a direct contradiction of his policy on gays

I hadn’t gotten to read, until this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s little op ed he penned for the NYT about Syria’s chemical weapons.

Syria has long been a Russian pet, and Putin’s op ed is intended to put pressure on the Obama administration not to attack Syria.

Having finally looked at the Putin propaganda piece, I was struck by two parts.  First, Putin’s invocation of international law and order.  It’s not entirely clear when Putin has ever cared about the law.  Order, absolutely.  Law, not so much.

But there’s another problem for Putin.  His comments about Syria directly contradict Russia’s comments, and actions, about their years-long draconian crackdown on gay and trans Russians.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, back in his KGB days. Putin went on to run the domestic follow-on to the KGB.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, back in his KGB days. Putin went on to run the domestic follow-on to the KGB.

First, Putin’s bizarre and sudden love of international law, from the NYT piece:

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not….

Yeah, here’s the problem for Putin.  Russia’s new anti-gay “propaganda” law violates international law.  But Putin is fine with violating international law when it comes to bashing gays.  Putin only has a problem with disobeying international law when someone wants to bash mass-murdering genocidal maniacs, then suddenly he’s a fan of the law.

You can take the man out of the KGB, but…

Here’s some background from Wikipedia on the international legal situation concerning Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law:

Russia has recently received criticism from around the world and across the international community for enacting a law that bans the distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. Under the Russian statute, it is a criminal act to hold any sort of public demonstration in favour of gay rights, speak in defense of gay rights or distribute material related to gay rights, or to state that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships. International human rights organisations and the governments of developed democracies have condemned the Russian law. The United Nations and European regional institutions have called for it to be repealed, making clear that the Russian law in question as well as other infringements of LGBT rights in the country are a direct violation of international human rights law, including the right of children to receive proper information, and of Russia’s international obligations. The Council of Europe has called on Russia to protect LGBT rights fully, the European Court of Human Rights has fined Russia for infringements of LGBT rights, and the UN Human Rights Committee has ruled that the Russian gay “propaganda ban” in question is inadmissible under international law.

Oops.  So, Vladimir Putin doesn’t really care at all about international law, unless he sees it serving his own personal dictator-loving self-interest.

But there’s more from the Putin op ed:

It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

“Extremely dangerous” to see yourself as exception.  Really?

Funny, but that’s exactly what Russia is claiming with regards to its anti-gay crackdown, that Russia is unique, and much better than godless Europe, which Russian legislators refer to as “Sodom and Gomorrah.”  Thus, they argue, Russia has no obligation to obey European, or international, law when it comes to the human rights of LGBT people.

Let’s hear a bit from Russian lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlyov, who just proposed legislation to take kids away from gay parents:

Asked whether Russia should contemplate leaving the EU as more anti-LGBT laws are introduced — in opposition to the strong human rights focus of the EU — he compared Europe to the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. “We view Europe as Sodom and Gomorrah. Europe must not tell us how to live. The Europeans can live any way they like, but they mustn’t tell us what to do. If negotiations about a visa-free space mean that our streets should have gay parades marching around, I am categorically against international relations of that kind and shall speak out against them.”

So, in fact, Russia has no interest in international law, unless its to protect Putin’s favorite mass-murdering dictator.

One final point.  Did you catch Putin’s last line from op ed, the one where he invokes God?

We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

We are all different but we must not forget that god created us equal?   Vladimir Putin thinks we’re all equal under God, and that we must respect our differences?  Really?

Well, only if you’re a Syrian dictator who gasses your own people.  If you’re a gay Russian, not so much.

UPDATE: Okay, so it’s not just me.  Human Rights Watch also had some issues with Putin’s declared new love of democracy and the rule of law:

Finally, the sincerity of Putin’s talk about democratic values and international law is hard to take seriously when back home his own government continues to throw activists in jail, threatens to close NGOs, and rubber-stamps draconian and discriminatory laws.

President Putin should give more credit to his audience: Russia will be judged by its actions, both on the international arena and domestically. So far, Russia has been a key obstacle to ending the suffering in Syria. A change towards a more constructive role would be welcome. But a compilation of half-truths and accusations is not the right way to signal such a change.

CNN’s host just weighed in as well:

“I just want to hone in on the hypocrisy, I would just have two words for Vladimir Putin: Gay rights.”

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: The Russian government has just invoked the anti-gay “propaganda” law in order to threaten a popular TV station that showed an award-winning film, “Les Chansons d’Amour,” which included some same-sex love scenes.  Can’t you just smell the respect for international law?

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | 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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23 Responses to “Putin’s NYT Syria op ed is a direct contradiction of his policy on gays”

  1. Кир Терещенко says:

    The reasoning behind Russia’s (not just the president, but the general population’s) views of homosexuality stem from a deep pride and patriotic belief and faith in their country, and a desire to grow and expand it by reproduction, therefore, those who do ‘choose’ to not reproduce are failures of citizens of the country, and, as such, should not be seen as equal to those who truly want to further Russian progress, as well as a firm belief that the ‘gay way’ is a choice, and goes against religious/traditional standards, violating the basic foundations of the country (although the government system makes religion and state uncombined).

    Another reason given is because it’s disappointing for parents to expect grandchildren and find their offspring is/are homosexual, to them, this makes them feel like failures as parents because the passing on of their DNA ends there.

    I, however, cannot make sense of such things, as although I love the country, I believe if one chooses to not opt into the making of the next generation, that is their choice, and their choice alone, and they should not be critisized for this. I do, however, also think that the people of the United States do the same thing, except with their military. If you do not wish to serve and you are a man, you are an unpatriotic, ungrateful swine according to the people of the US as a general population. The same goes for not supporting the troops. You must be a horrible, awful person to not like your protection and “freedom” (via bullying). However, wanting to serve and being able to are two different things.

    Plus gay couples can always adopt. Mainly my point with this is that I do not support these homosexual laws in Russia, the blind patriotism of the United States, even the snootiness of the Nederlands.

    I firmly believe in the future, however, the country will change for the better and will be more accepting to homosexuals, as the rest of the world is slowly following suit or has already done so.


    A Russian

  2. mike31c says:

    Typical RWNJ’s and his expected exceptionalism.

  3. Jt says:

    If you can find me a better cause for screaming then perhaps I’ll stop and save it for that. Until then… we’re talking about WORLD WAR FUCKING THREE and we’re fixing to be the bad guys in it.

  4. karmanot says:


  5. Jt says:

    Sipping the kool-aid, clearly. Come on! If we go against Assad we stand WITH al-Quada, we stand WITH Chechen rebels, and other known terrorist groups! Where is the evidence? SHOW ME? THERE IS NONE!!! You simply BELIEVE because your government tells you, but EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD knows al-Nusra Front is in control of the FSA! We are aiding terrorism.

  6. For a real laugh, I just happened to hear Rush Limpback’s reactionary onanism yesterday. The spin the corporate slut take on the same op-ed page, served for the rich and the bigots, contrasts sharply from your post, John. It’s an example of just how much spin can go, even though it’s awry. Limpback managed to claim he even knows what Obama and his supporters think about this op-ed. He must be an exceptional mind reader.

  7. It reminded me of Brezhnev’s invocation of God at the Salt II talks in 1979. Communists dismiss religion as a threat to their power, with Poland a great example. However, it does not preclude them from using religion on useful idiots.

  8. Gest2016 says:

    Putin’s invocation of “God” was just too much for me. He thought he was cleverly appealing to bible-thumping American Christians, but I think he badly misunderstands the current backlash against religious intolerance and bigotry now going on in America. Christianity has become synonymous with fearful intolerance and inflexible gay scapegoating to many Americans. For a genocidally anti-gay dictator to invoke God and proclaim his belief that all men are created equal only confirms many people’s worst fears about how religion tries to hide behind God to justify bigotry.

  9. Indigo says:

    It’s the old nested Russian dolls trick.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think we can speak with such authority about being behind. Consensual sexual activity between adults of the same gender was not even legal nationwide in our country until 2003. When it comes to minority rights, we aren’t that far ahead of Russia.

  11. karmanot says:

    Puti’s sudden concern for human rights in Syria is simply a scrim distraction, until his fortune making Olympics is over.

  12. BeccaM says:

    I concur. Submit it.

  13. BeccaM says:

    I’d suggest that instituting a nationwide “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and don’t you dare say anything supportive about gay people or off to the gulag with you” law qualifies as re-criminalizing homosexuality.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Since the whole USSR thing didn’t work out, he completely changed his stance. Wonder if he’s friends with Mitt Romney (flip-flop)?

  15. Anonymous says:

    I hate to say this, but in a country that is so behind, their current small advances are seen as a luxury. That’s why Putin goes on about “giving medals to homosexuals,” as if it’s a huge stride. This is a country that only decriminalized homosexuality 20 years ago. We won’t change his mind, but it appears we made him desperate. He’s trying to infiltrate our newspapers with his propaganda to appease us.

  16. sonoitabear says:

    Putin is a bald-faced liar and hypocrite… End of story…

  17. FLL says:

    Putin’s op-ed desperately needs a rebuttal. John, please submit this piece to the New York Times.

  18. Whitewitch says:

    Why do you keep talking about Putin as if he should follow his own logic. No one in politics, here or elsewhere does, so he says we should all follow the law…that is pure BS – Christians, politicians and zealots only follow the laws which they like, or only impose them on others if it makes them behave in a way they want. You act as if it is a surprise. Even President Obama only applies laws, rules and ideals as he chooses…Open Government was his pledge, is spying on your citizens open? Sadly men are basically icky and when their mouth is moving they should be ignored.

  19. heimaey says:

    Yeah, I agree. You should submit it.

    Also my friend on FB posted this and I thought I’d share as it made me chuckle:

    When Putin wrote up his op-ed against American exceptionalism I wonder if he did it on Windows or Mac …a pirated Chinese copy of Windows or Mac, I mean.

  20. Thom Allen says:

    John, you should submit this as an op ed to the NYT as a commentary on Putin’s op ed. Of course, you’d have to re write it per their policies.

    You raise some very good points. Putin points his finger at everyone else, denouncing their behavior, yet Russia’s behavior is even more flawed.

    I find it amazing that Vlad, who was a rigid, anti-religion, atheist communist when Russia was the USSR, is now devoutly preaching about God to all of us poor sinners. Perhaps, since his faith is so profound, he should resign from politics and enter an orthodox monastery.

  21. TonyT says:

    This is an excellent job John!. Recommending this read to all my friends

  22. pappyvet says:

    Respect of the law is easy when you can make laws that destroy some lives and pound your chest to protect those who do the destroying.

  23. Houndentenor says:

    Everyone knows you can say one thing about gays in the West and another in other places and that the American media is too lazy to check and call you out on that. Rick Warren got away with it. Why wouldn’t Putain?

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