In the latest chapter of Russia’s continuing saga of homophobic legislation and anti-LGBT violence, Dmitri Kisilev, Deputy General Director of the Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, recently slammed the gay community on the country’s most popular news program.
Speaking on Rossiya 1, a state-owned news network, Kisilev stated that:
I think that just imposing fines on gays for homosexual propaganda among teenagers is not enough. They should be banned from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life. The statements were met with resounding applause from the audience.
According to BBC, a large percentage of Russian television is controlled and operated either directly by the state or by companies associated with “close links to the Kremlin.” The show from which this clip is taken, titled “Vesiti,” is not only Russia’s most popular news show, but runs continuously every two hours.
Russia began receiving mass media attention following international awareness surrounding the country’s recent string of anti-gay legislation and claims that athletes and attendees of the 2014 Sochi Olympics would be held accountable to these new laws. Recent backlash against these claims and the former Soviet Union have ranged in extremity from boycots of Russian-manufactured vodka, to extensive petitions backed by celebrity support, to acts of symbolic self-mutilation.
According to Americablog, the news outlet that initially broke the story, it remains lost in translation whether Kiselev’s speech distinguishes between Russian officials burning the hearts of living or dead gay accident victims, though “it sounds from the quote as if he means that gay accident victims should be put to death, since he mentions that they are ‘unsuitable for the continuation of life.’”
With Obama opposing a boycot of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, it remains to be seen how the safety of LGBT athletes will be ensured with high-ranking officials, such as Kisilev, continuing to propagate a culture of LGBT hate and violence in increasingly higher-visibility outlets — and with three out of four Russians believing that society should reject gay people.