Sexual Orientation, Ethnicity Key for Russian National Identity – Poll
MOSCOW, September 11 (Howard Amos, RIA Novosti) – Besides drunks, who do Russians not want most as neighbors or work colleagues? The answer: homosexuals, according to new research examining national identity released by a state-run pollster, the Russia Public Opinion Research Center, on Tuesday.
According to the survey, 51 percent of Russians would not like «under any circumstances» to see a homosexual as a neighbor or a work colleague.
Such an apparent loathing of homosexuality was one of the divisions highlighted by the survey, which examined what ideas and values united Russians and what kept them apart. Representing 45 regions across the country, 1,600 Russians took part in the poll.
The search for a defining national idea has provoked much discussion within Russia’s political elite since the fall of the Soviet Union, but the topic has recently become more acute as President Vladimir Putin faces domestic opposition to his rule and as Russia’s profile on the world stage grows.
Next week Putin, senior officials, international experts on Russia and Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, will meet to discuss Russia’s national identity at the annual Valdai Club.
«The experience of failure [of the Soviet Union] itself has left a mighty legacy over Russia today: the fear of really articulating a positive vision because of the way that positive visions in the past have been exclusive and imposed by violence,» Richard Sakwa, a professor of Russian and European politics at Britain’s Kent University and a member of the Valdai Club, said in written comments.
Homosexuality in Russia became a controversial issue for many Russians – and foreigners – after Russia passed a controversial new law earlier this year banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships toward minors.
Opponents say the law is just the latest in a series of measures pushed by the Kremlin in an attempt to shore up its support base among conservative, Orthodox and largely rural voters, and portray liberal opposition groups that oppose the legislation as Western-orientated, morally decayed and out of touch with ordinary Russian voters.