By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 26 2013 11:45 AM ET
A senior Russian lawmaker wants to offer LGBT Russians free psychotherapy to become heterosexual, reports the Russian Times.
Mikhail Degtyarev, a parliamentarian from the populist-nationalist party LDPR, said he and members of the lower house of Parliament, known as the State Duma, are drafting a proposal to offer LGBT people anonymous, voluntary consultations with psychologists, psychiatrists, and "sexologists" to help them "return to normal life and become heterosexuals, as are 95 to 99 percent of our citizens," according to the state-run news agency RT.
Every major scientific and medical organization in the U.S. has determined that "ex-gay" therapy, sometimes called "conversion" or "reparative therapy" is not only ineffective at turning gay people straight, but also seriously harmful to the mental and physical health of the person undergoing "treatment." California and New Jersey have both passed laws barring licensed therapists from engaging in the practice with minors.
Given Russia's harsh national ban on broadly defined "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," which imposes fines and possible jail time for anyone supporting or discussing LGBT identities in a format that might be visible to minors, it would seem Degtyarev's bill could feasibly present an alternative to incarceration for those convicted of "propagandizing."
Degtyarev, a senior member of Parliament who's also running for mayor of Moscow, additionally cited U.S. policy in his desire to reinstate Russia's ban on gay people giving blood or donating organs. Russia's health minister said he would investigate the medical implications of such a ban, which remains in place in Germany, France, and the United States, despite widespread debate and critique that it's outdated and unscientific.
Lest he be considered homophobic, though, Degtyarev said he is not opposed to LGBT pride rallies, although Moscow has banned such events for the next 100 years. Degtyarev, however, said the new nationwide "antipropaganda" law, passed unanimously by the State Duma and signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, does not prohibit Pride parades and other pro-LGBT expressions that cannot be viewed by children.
"But it is very possible to hold [Pride events] at night, with flashlights and without amplifiers," said Degtyarev, according to RT.