The Foreign Policy of LGBT Rights (2016)
This article examines the LGBT movement in Russia from its first Pride parade in 2006 to the reaction over the Sochi Olympics, as well as the 2011 foreign policy change in the US to promote LGBT rights abroad as part of its broader human rights foreign policy strategy. The comparison highlights a distinct trend between Russia’s treatment of the LGBT community and its attitude toward the West, indicating that LGBT equality is an issue caught in larger geopolitical tensions. While an important moment, the Sochi Olympics is only a part of larger trend toward anti-LGBT sentiments that have been growing in Russia since the late 2000s. More frequently, anti-LGBT sentiments are continually linked to anti-West attitudes. Indeed, some Russian LGBT activists are quickly turning away from Western involvement and aid. Thus this article examines the questions: Is there thus an overarching correlation between the rise of the US promoting LGBT rights internationally and Russia’s increased hostility toward the community? Has US foreign policy been one of the key drivers behind Russia taking up the mantle of anti-LGBT policies? What are some of the short-term effects and potential long-term gains of this policy?