Poll Reveals Widespread Intolerance for Gays in Russia

MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) – The vast majority of Russians find same-sex relationships unacceptable, according to a survey published Friday by a state-run pollster.

VTsIOM found in its poll that lesbian couples were deemed inappropriate by 78 percent of respondents, with only 3 percent answering that relationships between two women were normal.

Relationships between men were even more unpopular. Eighty-two percent of people said gay male couples were objectionable, and just 2 percent consider them ordinary.

The figures reflect deep-seated and widespread anti-homosexual sentiment that authorities have sought to capitalize upon by passing laws viewed by rights activists as efforts to marginalize and stigmatize minorities.

Russia came under fierce international condemnation over a law passed in June banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors. Activists say the legislation has prompted a rise in suicides among gay and transgender people in the country.

Authorities insist the measure is part of efforts to promote traditional values and protect children from gay propaganda and is not aimed at discriminating against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The results of VTsIOM’s latest poll, in which 1,600 Russians across 42 regions were queried, suggest levels of homophobia may have risen in previous years.

A VTsIOM poll in May 2012 found that 38 percent of Russians felt no particular emotions when interacting with a gay person, compared to 45 percent who said they experienced negative emotions, agitation and stress when thinking about homosexuals. 

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