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Most Russians Believe Gays Conspiring Against Country, Poll Finds

Most Russians Believe Gays Conspiring Against Country, Poll Finds

Nearly two-thirds of respondents say "gay propaganda" is at the heart of a plot to undermine the nation's values.

If you think Vladimir Putin is the only homophobe in Russia, you're sadly incorrect.

A recent survey by the state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Center found almost two-thirds of respondents believe gays are conspiring to undermine the former USSR's traditional values.

In particular, sixty-three percent of Russian citizens believe specifically in "the existence of an organization that seeks to destroy the spiritual values" of the nation through gay propaganda, or as they call it, "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."

"Such results reflect in many ways the official policies of the Russian authorities," Russian LGBT Network communications manager Svetlana Zakharova told NBC News. She noted that hate crimes in Russia have gone up since the national "gay propaganda" law was adopted in 2013.

Earlier this month, a 16-year-old Russian was arrested under the country's so-called gay propaganda law for saving a photo of two men hugging on a social media website. Maxim Neverov is now appealing the fine of 50,000 rubles (about $750) that was imposed.

Young Russians are rebelling against the antigay mentality, the poll suggests. Twenty-four percent of respondents found that "people who advocate for the rights of members of sexual minorities in Russia do not pursue destructive goals." Of that group, nearly half of 18-to-24-year-old Russians agreed with that sentiment.

"All people's rights are being violated in Russia, not just LGBT people's," said Neverov when announcing his appeal. "And I believe LGBT are just people, so there is no reason to fight for LGBT rights separately from everyone else's."

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Ariel Sobel