February 6, 2014

2014 Winter Olympics Under Cloud of Anti-LGBTQ Violence

Slava Mogutin: Sochi Olympics can serve as a platform to challenge discrimination, violence and intimidation targeting Russia's LGBTQ community
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support the Real News Network because of their bravery, integrity, informative and educational - David Pear
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Slava Mogutin is a New York-based Russian-American artist and writer, exiled from Russia for his outspoken writings and activism. He is also a writer and a self-taught journalist who worked as a reporter and editor for the first independent Russian newspapers, publishers, and radio stations, hailed as one of the foremost voices of the post-Perestroika new journalism and the only openly gay personality in the Russian media.



2014 Winter Olympics Under Cloud of Anti-LGBTQ ViolenceJAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

The 2014 Olympic Games are underway in Sochi, Russia. But a hot topic for these games has nothing to do with sports. Human Rights Watch released a video showing brutal harassment of gay Russian men ranging from public humiliation to physical violence. Activists point to the state of anti-LGBT laws, specifically a recent law banning pro-gay, quote, propaganda that could be accessible to minors.

With that, we're joined by our guest, Slava Mogutin. He's a New York-based Russian-American artist and writer. He was exiled from Russia for his outspoken writings and activism.

Thank you so much for joining us.


NOOR: So you recently wrote a piece in the Huffington Post. You wrote about how the recent crackdown on gay rights goes hand-in-hand with the general crackdown on human rights. We know you fled your home country. You're now living in the U.S. What was your personal experience being a gay man in Russia? Were you ever attacked?

MOGUTIN: Well, I don't think that Russians by nature are any more homophobic than any other nation. When I first came to Moscow as a teenager, I don't recall experiencing homophobia on a day-to-day basis.

But when I came out publicly and started talking and writing on gay issues and outing prominent Russian personalities, that's when I got in trouble with the authorities. And I was charged with open and deliberate contempt of the generally accepted norms and inflaming national social and religious division, malicious hooliganism with exceptional cynicism and extreme insolence, and so on and so forth. And this persecution only escalated after my attempt to register officially the first same-sex marriage in Russia, which ultimately led to my exile from Russia a few months later. And I came to New York and asked for political asylum and became the first Russian to be granted asylum on the grounds of homophobic persecution.

NOOR: And so how does Vladimir Putin play into this? Some would argue that the problems occurring today in Russia are not Russian or simply don't stem from Putin but are a broader cultural problem. People voted Putin into power, and homophobia is rampant. What's your response?

MOGUTIN: Well, the roots of homophobia in Russia are very deep indeed, and they go back to the time of gulag and Stalin's suppression. Just to remind you, the first anti-gay law in U.S.S.R. was introduced in 1934. At the same time, a similar law was adopted in Nazi Germany. And even though homosexuality was officially decriminalized in Russia in 1993, it remained on the list of official--of mental illnesses up until 1999.

And, unfortunately, since my exile in '95, things have gotten much worse. And the recent anti-gay legislation is just another perfect example of the rampant homophobia which goes hand-in-hand with the general political corruption and the rise of the Russian [incompr.] and xenophobia and the crackdown on the basic human rights and freedoms. So, historically homosexuals were used as scapegoats under every dictatorship. And sadly, Putin's regime was no exception here.

NOOR: And obviously Russia's facing deep economic and social problems. So homosexuals would make a convenient scapegoat, like, as you mentioned, they have been throughout history.

MOGUTIN: Absolutely. And that's exactly what's happening. Basically, Putin is blatantly using this anti-gay card to cement his reputation as a strong man and the father of the nation.

NOOR: And so the Olympics have raised this issue of the persecution of the LGBT community. So activists have used it as a way to elevate that. Talk about what's being done to address the root causes of these problems.

MOGUTIN: With the Sochi Olympics on everyone's mind, I feel like we have a perfect chance and opportunity to address the bigotry and hatred promoted by Putin's regime. And we have to hold Russian government accountable for the rampant rise of gay bashes that is happening all over Russia on a daily basis. And most importantly, I feel like we must keep on putting pressure on the Russian government until these shameful and unjust laws are abolished once and for all. And I feel that Russia is a beautiful, prosperous, and generous country, and its people deserve much better future and much better government, all people, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation.

NOOR: Thank you so much for joining us.

MOGUTIN: Thank you for having me.

NOOR: You can follow us @therealnews on Twitter. Tweet me questions and comments @jaisalnoor.

Thank you so much for joining us.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Growing Discontent with Corruption Brings Thousands of Russians to the Streets
Will Dems Derail Sanders's Push for Public Option?
Arrest of Omar Barghouti Comes Amidst Upsurge in International Support for Boycott of Israel
Baltimore Mayor's Veto of $15/Hr Bill Shows Corporate Wing of Democrats Alive and Well
Military-Industrial Complex Pushes Nuke Modernization, Risking Confrontation with Russia
Empire Files: The Sikh Experience in America
Nebraskan Landowners Resist Keystone XL By Refusing to Sell Their Property to TransCanada
Study Links Extreme Weather Events to Climate Change
Sixth Year of War in Syria Marked by Tremendous Civilian Casualties
The Protest-Resignation of UN Under-Secretary Dr. Rima Khalaf
Climate Catastrophe Is Here: 2016 Hottest Year on Record
Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in D.C. Set for August
"Wealthcare" Defeated: Health Care For All Back on the Agenda
Defending the Climate in the Age of Trump
Baltimore Public School Funding Pales in Comparison to Private Education Spending
Rattling the Bars: Women and Incarceration
Trump-Republican Alliance in Disarray?
Baltimore Mayor's Veto of $15 Wage Protects Policy of Subsidizing Wealthy, Councilperson Says
The Truth Behind the War on Immigrants
Were Haitian Police Behind Assassination Attempt on Aristide?
New Provisions Eliminate Healthcare From GOP 'Wealthcare' Bill
Why Further Revelations on Trump's Russian Connections Might Fail to Bring Him Down
18 Million U.S. Citizens Exposed to Lead-Contaminated Water Systems
Russia vs. USA: Who is the Threat, Who is the Aggressor? (2/2)
Should Sanders Continue the Fight Outside the Democratic Party?
Fed Inflation Target Keeping Wages Low, People Out of Jobs
Is Trump Dangerous for Russia?
Was the Georgian Conflict Started to Elect John McCain President in 2008? Pt.1
Will the NDP Adopt Pro-BDS Platform?
Massive Cuts to EPA Threaten Communities Already Suffering From Pollution, Climate Change,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Managed Wordpress Hosting