As the hub of the Soviet Union, Russia was reviled for rights abuses by many U.S. conservatives during the Cold War. Now some are voicing support and admiration as Russian authorities crack down on gay-rights activism.
The latest step drawing praise from social conservatives is a bill signed into law Sunday by President Vladimir Putin that would impose hefty fines for conducting gay-pride rallies or providing information about the gay community to minors.
“You admire some of the things they’re doing in Russia against propaganda,” said Austin Ruse, president of the U.S.-based Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. “On the other hand, you know it would be impossible to do that here.”
Ruse, whose institute is seeking accreditation at the United Nations, plans to travel to Russia this summer to meet with government officials and civic leaders.
“We want to let them know they do in fact have support among American NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] on social issues,” he said.
Among others commending Russia’s anti-gay efforts was Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.
“Russians do not want to follow America’s reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion, sexual perversion, and anti- biblical ideologies to youth,” LaBarbera said on his website.
In a sign of Russia’s evolving stature among some U.S. social conservatives, the Illinois-based World Congress of Families plans to have its eighth international conference at the Kremlin’s Palace of Congresses in Moscow next year. Past conferences in Europe, Mexico and Australia have brought together opponents of abortion and same-sex marriage from dozens of countries.
“The Kremlin used to be a no-no for conservatives,” said Larry Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress. “We’re going to redeem that building.”