Steve Bannon, the disgraced former adviser to Donald Trump, has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for being anti-LGBTQ+.
Bannon made the remarks on his War Room broadcast Wednesday, shortly before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. He and a guest also lauded Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for his call for authorities to investigate gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse.
In the Putin segment, Bannon hosted Erik Prince, founder of the military contracting firm Blackwater USA and brother of Trump’s Education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Bannon said the U.S. should support Putin because “he’s anti-woke.”
“The Russian people still know which bathroom to use,” Prince responded. Bannon then said, “How many genders are there in Russia?” to which Prince replied, “Two.” Bannon further praised Russia because Russians don’t fly LGBTQ+ Pride flags, and Prince noted, “They don’t have boys swimming in girls’ college swim meets,” a reference to transgender athletes.
“How savage,” Bannon said sarcastically. “How medieval.”
Putin and Russia are notorious for the “gay propaganda” law, enacted in 2013, which prohibits any mention of LGBTQ+ issues or identities in venues accessible to minors, effectively banning Pride parades and other public LGBTQ+ events.
In another segment, Bannon spoke with Terry Schilling, president of the anti-LGBTQ+ American Principles Project, about events in Texas. Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued a nonbinding opinion defining gender-affirming procedures for minors as child abuse, and Abbott has ordered the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who allow their children to undergo such procedures.
A bill introduced in the Texas legislature in 2021 would have written that definition into law, but it didn’t pass. Bannon expressed amazement that it didn’t, but Schilling said his group, with support from “the War Room posse,” mounted a grassroots campaign to persuade Abbott to issue his directive right before next week’s primary election.
“It wasn't a coincidence that he did this,” Schilling said. Both Paxton and Abbott are far-right Republicans who are up for reelection this year, and they’re facing challengers who are even farther right in the primary.
Texas political observers expect Abbott to prevail but note that Paxton may have a harder time because of his legal troubles. He’s been indicted for securities fraud and is under investigation on allegations of bribery and abuse of his office.
Meanwhile, Bannon has his own legal problems. He has been charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He’s a former chairman of the right-wing Breitbart website, and early in Trump’s presidency, he was a senior counselor and chief White House strategist. He has remained a major Trump supporter.