In the United States, we have many rights guaranteed to us. One of those being the right to peacefully protest, which has been a point of contention for other countries in the world, most notably Russia. This was made even more evident by the arrest of more than 20 men during the May Day parade in St. Petersburg.
These men committed no crime, outside of having the audacity to have a different opinion than that of the ruling powers in Moscow. Protesting the treatment of gays in Chechnya, and the ongoing torture of homosexuals in the region, caused these men to be arrested for ““violations by participants of a public activity of the rules of its implementation.”, according to the news portal Fontanka.
Human rights and treatment of homosexuals has been a controversial matter inside Russia for years, and has become well-known since the turn of the 21st century. Although it has been legal to be a same-sex couple since 1993, these households are held to much lower standards than that of heterosexual couples. Hate crimes and homophobic propaganda has been on the rise recently, with many saying that the law gives them the right to commit these atrocities against gay Russians.
All of this is not ideal for a country trying to bring back its aura of superpower, but it becomes a major issue when the country not only encourages crimes against homosexuals, but helps to perpetrate them. This is the case in Russia, where pro-Russian soldiers, allegedly under the orders of President Vladimir Putin, have arrested and tortured over one-hundred gay men who have no reason for being arrested.
These men are being subjected to electroshocking, forced hunger, beatings, and other various methods of torture in an effort to have the victims give up more information about gays that they know in the region. A gay Russian using the name of Maksim told his story to the New York Times,
“…they strapped him to a chair, attached electrical wires to his hands with alligator clips and began an interrogation. “They yelled, ‘Who else do you know?’” Maksim said, and zapped him with current from time to time. “It was unbearably painful; I was hanging on with my last strength,” he added. “But I didn’t tell them anything.”
These acts, coupled with the refusal to acknowledge homosexuals in Chechnya, (such as regional leader Ramzan A. Kadyrov telling the New York Times that Chechnya has no gay men,) is no doubt a violation of human rights, and is being looked into by the United Nations.
If a country wants to become a power, and strives to be looked on favorably in the international community, it must leave behind the notion that gays are to be frowned upon. Homosexuality exists in the world, and should be viewed as a source of pride, as it shows that society is becoming more progressive and inclusive; inviting all people in, regardless of sexual orientation, instead of shunning them.