Almost one in five Russians wants to eliminate gays and lesbians and another third want them ‘isolated from society’.
That’s according to a new survey about social attitudes, carried out by non-governmental organisation Levada Center.
Researchers interviewed 1,614 people across Russia from 20 to 26 February this year.
And 18% of them said they thought ‘gays and lesbians’ should be ‘eliminated’ or ‘liquidated’.
Moreover, another 32% thought gay and lesbian people should be ‘isolated’ from Russian society.
Just 9% thought ‘assisting’ LGBT+ people was the right way forward. And a further 32% of people thought gays and lesbians should be left to themselves.
Finally, 9% said the question was difficult to answer.
The shocking survey reveals some of the dangerous attitudes Russian LGBT+ people face.
But researchers also asked the questions in a potentially inflammatory way. Alongside the question about ‘gays and lesbians’ they also enquired about extremists, terrorists, killers and pedophiles.
As such, the survey seems to reinforce the dangerous link many Russians make between LGBT+ people and ‘deviancy’ and ‘pedophilia’
Only religious sects, extremists, terrorists, pedophiles and murderers score worse
The survey also revealed Russians are deeply opposed to ‘feminists’. When Lavada Center asked what should happen to feminists, 9% favored ‘liquidation’ with another 18% wanting to isolate them from society.
Just 13% wanted to assist feminists, 41% would leave them to themselves and 19% found the question difficult to answer.
There was significantly more sympathy to people living with HIV and AIDS. Just 2% wanted to eliminate those with HIV. However, fears about the virus continue with 14% wanting to isolate them from other Russians.
Meanwhile 79% felt Russians should assist those with the virus, with just 2% saying they should be left to themselves and 3% finding the question hard to answer.
Indeed, the only groups Russians want to crack down on more than gays and lesbians are members of religious sects, radicals, terrorists, pedophiles and murderers.
By contrast they are less likely to favor ‘liquidation’ for homeless people, alcoholics, severely disabled people, beggars, drug addicts and prostitutes.
Are attitudes shifting?
However, as appalling as the attitudes towards LGBT+ people are, they are shifting slightly in the right direction.
The organization has run the survey irregularly since 1989. Back then, 35% wanted to ‘eliminate’ lesbian and gay people. The figure fell to 21% in 2015 and 18% today.
On the other hand, 1999 seems to be the highest point of acceptance for LGBT+ people in the survey. Then just 15% favored ‘liquidation’ – 3% less than now – and 23% isolation – 9% less than today.
Moreover, the way the Lavada Center has asked the question may have skewed the answers.
By contrast, a separate 2019 survey indicated some Russians have more tolerant attitudes. It found 47% agreed ‘gays and lesbians should enjoy the same rights as other citizens’ while 43% disagreed. This was the highest level of support in 14 years.
On the ground, Russia continues to be one of the most dangerous places to be LGBT+ in the world.
Homosexuality is legal in most of Russia, but is defacto illegal in Chechnya where the government has rounded up LGBT+ people and tortured and murdered them in concentration camps.
Across Russia, authorities use ‘gay propaganda’ laws to silence the LGBT+ community and prevent peaceful protest, particularly against the government.