Friday, 25 January 2013

Russian military recruits to undergo 'gay tattoo' checks in new Kremlin clampdown on homosexuality

  1. Conscripts and contract soldiers to be given a thorough examination 
  2. Special attention to tattoos near the face, sexual organs and buttocks 
  3. But many officers have already rejected the 'impractical' guidelines
  4. Comes amid recent backlash against homosexuality and Western values
  5. Almost a third of Russians think homosexuality is result of 'a sickness'
Russian military recruits are to be checked for certain types of tattoo which authorities believe could reveal signs of homosexuality under new technical guidelines issued from the Kremlin.
Conscripts and contract soldiers should be given a thorough physical examination looking for tattoos in intimate places, the Defense Ministry's central administration recommends.

The guidelines, which are based on a military psychology textbook from 2005, specify that special attention should be paid to tattoos near the face, sexual organs and buttocks, which could reveal possible sexual deviations.
The text reads: 'The reason for getting tattoos could indicate a low cultural or educational level.
'If an influence by external factors is determined, for example, persuasion or direct coercion, this indicates the malleability of the young man, his disposition to submit to another's will.'
The guide also outlines a range of warning signs for potential mental instability which include early sexual experience and 'uncontrolled sexual behavior'.

Officers are advised to chat with conscripts about their sexual experience and conduct. The physical examination should take place after the recruit has been quizzed about family, everyday life, success in school and attitudes toward alcohol.
The guide offers advice on various issues, from how to spot an 'opinion-shaper' and 'natural-born leader' within the ranks to what role religious and ethnic aspects will have inside the barracks.
However many officers have already rejected the guidelines claiming they would be impractical to implement. 
One unnamed battalion chief assistant told Russia's Izvestia newspaper: 'I just physically can't so confidentially hold a discussion with each new recruit. The commanders do that anyway.
'What will they do, examine their genitals for any tattoos? And how will they ask about someone's first sexual experience? 'Hey, when did you have your first woman, rookie? Answer directly, no beating around the bush!'"
While the Russian military holds traditional views on sexuality, a UN report from 2007 stated homosexuality and male prostitution is common within the army.
The UN International Panel for Struggle against Sexual Exploitation found that some soldiers voluntarily offer their services while others are forced into prostitution.
The battalion chief assistant added: 'I had one gay contract soldier who joined just to find more partners for himself. For people like that, of course, there's no place in the army.'
The move is the latest in a series of proposed clampdowns on homosexuality including new legislation which aims to promote traditional values.
Under the terms of a bill that comes up for a first vote later this month, a public kiss between two men could be defined as illegal 'homosexual propaganda' and bring a fine of up to £10,000
The legislation being pushed by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church would make it illegal to tell minors information that is defined as ‘propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism.’
It also includes a ban on holding public events that promote gay rights.
The bill is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values as opposed to Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to a wave of protest against President Vladimir Putin's rule, Fox News reported.
Other laws that the Kremlin says are intended to protect young Russians have been adopted in recent months, including some that allow banning and blocking web content and print publications that are deemed ‘extremist’ or unfit for young audiences.
Denis Volkov, a sociologist with the Levada Center, an independent pollster, says the anti-gay bill fits the ‘general logic’ of a government intent on limiting various rights.
But in this case, the move has been met mostly with either indifference or open enthusiasm by average Russians.
 Levada polls conducted last year show that almost two thirds of Russians find homosexuality ‘morally unacceptable and worth condemning.’

About half are against gay rallies and same-sex marriage; almost a third think homosexuality is the result of ‘a sickness or a psychological trauma,’ the Levada surveys show.
Russia's widespread hostility to homosexuality is shared by the political and religious elite.
Lawmakers have accused homosexuals of decreasing Russia's already low birth rates and said they should be barred from government jobs, undergo forced medical treatment or be exiled.

Orthodox activists criticised U.S. company PepsiCo for using a ‘gay’ rainbow on cartons of its dairy products.
In a gay rights protest in December, Pavel Samburov, founder of gay-rights group the Rainbow Association, was pelted with eggs by militant activists with the Orthodox Church seconds after he and his boyfriend kissed.
He was arrested by police, fined £10 and detained for 30 hours first in a frozen van and then in an unheated detention centre.
The Orthodox activists were also rounded up, but were released much earlier.
Those behind the bill say minors need to be protected from ‘homosexual propaganda’ because they are unable to evaluate the information critically.
The bill reads: ‘This propaganda goes through the mass media and public events that propagate homosexuality as normal behavior'.
Russian cities started adopting anti-gay laws in 2006. Only one person has been prosecuted so far under a law specifically targeted at homosexuals: Nikolai Alexeyev, a gay rights campaigner, was fined the equivalent of £100 after a one-man protest last summer in St. Petersburg.
In November, a St. Petersburg court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Trade Union of Russian Citizens, a small group of Orthodox conservatives and Putin loyalists, against pop star Madonna.
The group sought £6.7million in damages for what it says was ‘propaganda of perversion’ when Madonna spoke up for gay rights during a show three months earlier.
The federal bill's expected adoption comes 20 years after a Stalinist-era law punishing homosexuality with up to five years in prison was removed from Russia's penal code as part of the democratic reforms that followed the Soviet Union's collapse.
Most of the other former Soviet republics also decriminalised homosexuality, and attitudes toward gays have become a litmus test of democratic freedoms.
While gay pride parades are held in the three former Soviet Baltic states, all today members of the European Union, same-sex love remains a crime in authoritarian Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In Russia, homosexuals have been subject to official pressure and persistent homophobia.
There are no reliable estimates of how many gay men and women live in Russia, and only a few big cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg have gay nightclubs and gyms. Even there, homosexuals do not feel secure.

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