Majority of Russians hostile to gays

By Drum Digital
13 March 2013

A strong majority of Russians are hostile to homosexuals while only four percent say they take a positive view, a public opinion poll showed Wednesday.

The poll on attitudes to gay people by Levada independent polling agency comes as Russia's parliament is considering a bill banning "propaganda of homosexuality" among minors, which critics said could be used to ban any Gay Pride events.

The survey showed that 27 percent of Russians view homosexuals with "disgust or fear," while 23 said they were "irritated" and 18 percent said they were "wary".

Only four percent said they had positive feelings towards gay people, while 23 percent said they had "no particular feelings" towards them.

The poll also indicated strong backing for a ban on Gay Pride events, with 62 percent saying they were "definitely opposed".

The Russian lower house in January gave initial backing to a bill banning homosexual propaganda among minors. The measure, which has been criticised by rights groups and Western government, is already being implemented in several cities including Russia's second largest, Saint Petersburg.

The second key reading of the bill is expected in May.

The Levada poll was carried out last month among 1,800 people in 45 regions of the country.

While homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993 and removed from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1999, the poll shows that 34 percent of Russians still view homosexuality as as "an illness that should be treated."

The poll found that 35 percent of Russians think gay people "definitely do not" have the right to consensual relationships.

Russians also rejected the concept of legislation to allow gay couples to marry or to have the right to adopt children.

Sixty-two percent said they were "firmly opposed" to gay marriage, and the same number said they "absolutely" did not agree that gay couples should have the right to adopt.

-by Sapa

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