Timeline of LGBT History in Russia

A History of Oppression: the LGBT Community in Russia

The International Olympic Committee must now decide how to grapple with last week's announcement from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (which indicated that athletes and guests attending the 2014 Winter Olympic Games would be subjected to a "don't ask don't tell" policy). In the meantime, the National LGBT Museum would like to offer glimpses into Russian LGBT history over the past hundred years.

1917-11-07 00:00:00

The First Communist Regime

Pursuant to the Bolshevik Revolution, homosexuality was associated with the patrician aristocratic social class that existed during the time of the Czar--and, obligatorily, was rejected by the communist leadership.

1922-04-03 00:00:00

Joseph Stalin

Under Stalin's reign, homosexuality was considered equivalent to pedophilia. LGBT people were routinely arrested and sent to prison camps in Siberia.

1953-09-14 00:00:00

Nikita Khrushchev

Khrushchev inaugurated an era distinguished by liberal policies on social issues, with the exception of homosexuality. Laws banning consensual sex between adult homosexuals remained on the books, for fear that the situational, usually forced sex that occurred in prison would spread to the general population if prisoners were released.

1993-04-29 00:00:00

Sodomy Laws Struck Down

The fall of the Soviet Union, in addition to a declining population, also brought forth a hostile attitude toward foreign influence as Russia sought to rebuild itself on its own terms. The international community has influenced Russian policy respective to LGBT issues since 1993, when the Council of Europe pressured Boris Yeltsin’s administration to legalize consenting homosexual acts between adults. But thereafter, the marriage of conservative pro-family religiosity with nationalistic xenophobia has produced resentment toward pro-LGBT influence from outsiders.

2006-05-25 00:00:00

Russia's First Pride

The first Moscow pride was held in May of 2006. Marchers and protestors were beaten and arrested. Attacks were prompted by both the religious Orthodox condemnation of homosexuality and a nationalist reaction against the presence of non-Russian marchers in Moscow. This backlash against LGBT demonstrations presaged the anti-propaganda legislation that passed in Russia two months ago. It seems clear that neither the public nor elected officials are comfortable with displays that normalize homosexuality or present non-heterosexual configurations in a positive light.

2012-05-07 00:00:00

Putin Loses Popular Support

Vladimir Putin's announcement last year that he would return to the presidency was met with opposition from middle class liberals. By rallying support from the "heartland"--through, principally, maligning Russia's LGBT community--Putin won the endorsement of those pious, religious populations who still hold Soviet-era prejudices about gay people.

2013-01-01 00:00:00

A Terrible Time to be Gay in Russia

Polls reveal that 68 percent of Russians oppose or disapprove of homosexuality, while 15 percent of 900 LGBT people surveyed reported encountering physical violence in the past ten months. Mounting allegations of anti-gay violence and calls for LGBT people to be forcibly exiled are reported in alarming numbers. Meanwhile, the implications of the anti-propaganda bill passed this summer will manifest against the backdrop of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Timeline of LGBT History in Russia

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