A Timeline — Because It's So Bad in Russia It's Hard to Remember Everything

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com February 04 2014 7:00 AM ET

It's been a long road to the Winter Olympics for Russia, particularly for the LGBT community and its allies. When President Vladimir Putin signed the ban on "gay propaganda" into law on June 30, 2013, which criminialized LGBT-friendly public acts and demonstrations, he set off a firestorm of events including arrests, international protests, vodka boycotts, and outrage from public figures and celebrities alike. In order to trace the hate at its origins, The Advocate has compiled a timeline of our coverage of the major incidents that preceded and followed the antigay legislation in Russia.

February 21, 2012: Pussy Riot Protests Vladimir Putin
To protest the Russian Orthodox Church's endorsement of Vladimir Putin during his presidential campaign, feminist rock band Pussy Riot stages a performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. By March, three members of the group are arrested under the charge of "hooliganism." (See photo above.)

March 12, 2012: St. Petersburg Passes "Gay Propaganda" Ban
A law that prohibits the promoting of "gay propaganda" takes effect in St. Petersburg. It effectively outlaws any public LGBT events or discussions within city limits that would be accessible to minors.

May 7, 2012: Vladimir Putin Inaugurated President of Russia
Vladimir Putin (left), who formerly served as Russia's prime minister and second president, is again inaugurated. Suspecting fraud in the elections, thousands protest, and hundreds are subsequently arrested.

January 25, 2013: Russia Gives Preliminary Approval to Nationwide Ban on"Gay Propaganda"
Modeled after the legislation in St. Petersburg, the bill passes preliminary approval in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's Parliament, in a vote of 388-1.

January 25, 2013: Anchor Fired After Coming Out
Russian TV anchor Anton Krasovsky dared to challenge what was happening by coming out — live on air. He looked into the camera and told viewers of Kontr TV, which was launched by the Kremlin, that he is gay and "as human as President Putin." Then he lost his job.

June 13, 2013: Russia's State Duma Passes Ban on "Propaganda of Nontraditional Sexual Relations" 
In a 463-0 vote, Russia's State Duma approves a measure that would ban LGBT events or public discussion about sich identities, and prohibits individuals from providing information to minors about the LGBT community, or making statements that LGBT people are socially and morally equivalent to heterosexuals. 


June 27, 2013: Chaos Erupts at St. Petersburg Pride

Reports indicate that about 60 participants are hauled away by police (see photo above) for violating the city's ban on "gay propaganda."

June 28, 2013: Putin Spins Antigay Law
The Russian president says gays and lesbians are "not discriminated against in any way" in his country, despite a law that passed the lower house of Parliament unanimously banning discussion of or "promoting homosexuality toward minors."

June 30, 2013: Putin Signs Russian Ban on "Gay Propaganda"
The law imposes steep fines on any individual, media, or legal entity discussing "non-traditional sexual relations."

July 3, 2013: Putin Signs Adoption Ban for Gay Foreign Couples
Russian president Vladimir Putin signs a bill barring same-sex couples from foreign countries from adopting Russian children. The law also forbids any citizens — gay or straight — from nations with marriage equality from adopting Russian orphans. 

July 6, 2013: Tilda Swinton Poses With Rainbow Flag in Front of Kremlin
The Academy Award-winning actress shows her support of Russia’s LGBT community by posting a photo of herself (see photo at left) holding a rainbow flag in Moscow.

July 25, 2013: Stoli Responds to LGBT Boycott Of Russian Products
The SPI Group, which owns Stolichnaya Vodka, responds to a boycott promoted by Dan Savage and other LGBT activists,  urging gay bars to "dump Russian vodka."

July 27, 2013: Photos Emerge of Neo-Nazis Allegedly Torturing Gay Teens in "Anti-Pedophilia" Campaign
The group is said to have lured gay teens with personal ads on a Russian networking site, then filmed its members beating, torturing, and forcing the teenagers to come out as gay. (See photo at right.)

August 1, 2013: New York LGBT Activists Dump Russian Vodka
LGBT activists and bar owners "pour one out" to protest Russia's antigay policies outside the Russian Embassy in New York. (See photo below.)

August 7, 2013: Obama Denounces Russia's Antigay Laws on Leno, Cancels Meeting With Putin
The White House cancels a post-G-20 meeting scheduled with Putin because of Russia's "civil rights" issues, after Obama says he has "no patience" for countries that discriminate against LGBTs on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

August 8, 2013: Stephen Fry Compares Russian Olympics to 1936 Games in Nazi Germany
The out British actor joins more than 320,000 people who signed a petition asking the International Olympic Committee to seek printed assurances that LGBT athletes will be safe from persecution at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. (At left: Vitaly Milonov and Stephen Fry.)

August 11, 2013: Russian News Anchor Says Gay Hearts Should Be Burned
An influential Russian talking head says gays are unsuitable for organ donation.

Mid-August: Lady Gaga and Madonna Threatened to Never Return
After the pop stars used their concerts to talk about LGBT equality, a technicality in their visas became a way to prosecute them for their actions. Entertainment figures in Russia warned that the tactic would "inevitably lead to the country's isolation from world culture."

August 22, 2013: Gay U.S. Reporter Is Kicked Off Russian News for Pro-LGBT Outburst
Award-winning journalist and former Advocate columnist Jamie Kirchick is silenced by a government-owned TV station after he criticizes Russia's ban on so-called homosexual propaganda.

August 26, 2013: Russian Lawmaker Wants to Offer Free "Ex-Gay" Therapy
Mikhail Degtyarev, a parliamentarian from the populist-nationalist party LDPR, wants to offer LGBT Russians free psychotherapy to become heterosexual.

August 2013: Gay People's Homes Raided
A complaint about your gay neighbor can now lead to police turning your home upside down, as shown in footage by Reuters. Anyone suspected of "gay propaganda" should be turned in, the government says.

September 3, 2013: Activists Protest Putin on a Global Scale
Activists rally as part of an international protest against Russia's "gay propaganda" law and others targeting the rights of LGBT people. (At right: demonstrators outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in Madrid.)

September 5, 2013: Russian Lawmaker Proposes Taking Children From Gay Parents, Whom He Calls "Thieves"
An Associated Press report confirms a bill has been drafted that would take children from gay parents, equating homosexuality with child abuse and drug use as legitimate reasons to revoke parental rights.

September 13, 2013: Cher Turns Down Olympics Gig Because of Russia's "Gay Hate"
The musician and longtime gay idol "immediately said no" to a Russian official who asked her to perform.

September 15, 2013: Russia's Olympics Statement Mentions "Inclusion"
The Olympic Truce, a statement of international goodwill, says Russia "will promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind."

September 19, 2013: Poll Finds Nearly 70% of Americans Oppose Russia's Anti-LGBT Laws
For the first time in 15 years, Americans view Russia as unfriendly to the U.S., due in large part to the country's violent crackdown on LGBT people, a new Gallup poll reveals.

September 20, 2013: John McCain Condemns Russia's Antigay Bigotry
McCain writes an op-ed calling out the nation's generally repressive climate, including its antigay laws.

September 26, 2013: IOC "Completely Satisfied" With Russia's Anti-LGBT Laws
The International Olympic Committee says it doesn't have the authority to interfere with the laws of the nation hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. (At right: Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission)

October 4, 2013: NOM Caught Helping Russia Pass Antigay Laws
The head of the National Organization for Marriage travels to Russia to argue that gay parents are unfit to raise children.

October 11, 2013: U.S. Olympic Committee Says No to Discrimination
The United States Olympic Committee announces that it has expanded its existing nondiscrimination policy to include protections for sexual orientation.

October 17, 2013: Thomas Roberts's "Tremendous Hypocrisy" in Russia
The out MSNBC anchor agrees to cohost the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, scheduled to take place November in Moscow.


October 22, 2013: Trans Woman Commits Suicide After Firing Under Russia's "Gay Propaganda" Ban

Dasha Stern (pictured above) was 22 years old when she took her own life after being fired under Russia's nationwide ban on so-called homosexual propaganda.

October 23, 2013: Johnny Weir Retires From Skating, Will Join NBC as Analyst in Sochi
The out former Olympian hangs up his skates, but plans to represent LGBT people at the Sochi Winter Games as a figure skating analyst.

October 28, 2013: Putin Promises Gay Olympians Will Be "Comfortable" in Sochi
Russian president Vladimir Putin tells national sports officials that his administration will "do everything" to make sure LGBT athletes and spectators are "comfortable" at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

November 4, 2013: Russian Activists Confirm Attack on LGBT Meeting
Two men enter an LGBT social group's meeting with a gun and baseball bat, injuring two attendees. Police respond to the scene, but claim they find no evidence of a crime. 

November 9, 2013: Thomas Roberts Hosts Miss Universe Pageant
The out MSNBC anchor (pictured at left) hosts the Miss Universe Pageant, following the release of a video in which he strolls through Moscow's streets with Russian journalist Anton Krasovsky, who was fired for coming out.

November 14, 2013: Russian Government Spies on LGBT Activists Meeting With HRC, All Out
A so-called exposé that aired on Russian television reveals that government officials recorded private conversations between LGBT activists and international human rights organizations in October 2013.

November 17, 2013: Ongoing Attacks on Gay Moscow Nightclub
Gunshots and harmful gas are some of the weapons being used to assail Central Station, Moscow's largest gay nightclub.

November 21, 2013: Russia Unveils Rainbow Olympics Uniforms
After banning displays of the LGBT rainbow flag, Russian organizers for the Sochi Winter Olympics choose rainbow-colored uniforms, prompting a comedic lampoon from The Colbert Report.

November 26, 2013: LGBT Film Festival Continues in Russia Despite Bomb Threats
Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black are among the attendees of the Side by Side film festival, which was threatened with violence and protests.

December 4, 2013: Russia's High Court Finds "Gay Propaganda" Ban Constitutional
Russia's Constitutional Court dismisses a challenge from one of the nation's most prominent LGBT activists contending that the nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda violated the Russian Constitution.

December 6, 2013: Elton John Takes the Stage in Russia
Defining Russia's antigay laws, the out musician dedicated his Moscow performance to a 23-year-old gay Russian who was brutally murdered after coming out to his friends earlier this year.

December 8, 2013: German President Will Boycott Sochi Olympics
Joachim Gauck, who holds the mostly ceremonial title of President, is among the first major politicians to boycott the 2014 Olympics over host country Russia's human rights violations.

December 12, 2013: Melissa Etheridge Debuts Song to Help Gay Russians
Melissa Etheridge marks the launch of Uprising of Love, a new social movement dedicated to supporting LGBT Russians, with a new song.

December 17, 2014: Obama, Biden Decide Not to Attend Olympics
In a move interpreted as a protest of Russia's antigay laws, neither the president, the vice president, nor their wives will be in the U.S. delegations to Sochi, but out athletes Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow will.


December 19, 2013: Figure Skater Brian Boitano Comes Out

Weeks before heading to Russia as a delegate for the United States during the Sochi Olympic Games, Boitano announces in a statement that he is gay.

December 20, 2013: Third Russian Convicted Under "Gay Propaganda" Law
A regional court in the city of Kazan convicts activist Dmitri Isakov (pictured at left), ruling that he breached the law by standing in a public square in June and holding a sign reading, in Russian, “Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is criminal.”

January 10, 2014: State Dept. Warns LGBT Olympic Spectators
In advance of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi next month, the U.S. State Department issues a travel advisory for American citizens, specifically mentioning the country's ban on so-called gay propaganda.

January 13, 2014: RNC Member Says Russia's Antigay Law Is "Common Sense"
Republican National Committee member Dave Agema adds to his record of outrageously homophobic remarks. He is later asked by RNC chairman Reince Preibus to resign over his string of racist and antigay statements.

January 14, 2014: Ian McKellen and 27 Nobel Laureates Protest Russia
Nearly 30 Nobel laureates join with Sir Ian McKellen in an open protest of Russia’s homophobic "gay propaganda" law.

January 17, 2014: Putin to Gays: Leave Kids Alone and You'll Be Safe
The Russian president contends LGBT people will be welcome in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, as long as they don't try to speak to children.

January 27, 2014: Share a Coke — Unless You're Gay
The beverage manufacturer and Sochi Olympics sponsor is in hot water for a social media tool that appears to deny the existence of several pro-gay words, leading to an official apology the following day.