Gay Life in Russia:
Gay, lesbian and transgender people aren't widely accepted in Russia, a post-Soviet nation with a population of nearly 143 million. The estimated number of LGBT Russians is unknown.
Russian political and social life is heavily influenced by the conservative traditions and extreme sexual restrictions of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Gays are often attacked and ridiculed on the streets of Russia and therefore many live in secret. In the last few years, mostly due to the demands and openness of younger gay and straight generations, Russian society is slowly becoming more tolerant of LGBT people. Major cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg now have LGBT clubs and venues.
The Russian slang term for a gay man is "blue" (goluboy) and "pink" (rozovaya) for lesbians.
For more on gay life in Russia, visit Gay.ru, a project of Russian National LGBT center "Together".
Gay Rights in Russia:
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Russian officials decriminalized homosexuality in April of 1993, following the lead of post-Soviet republics Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Belarus. The move was necessary to gain Western support and to become a member of the Council of Europe. Prior to 1993, same-sex acts were punishable by prison terms of up to five years through Article 121 of the Russian criminal code. Gays and lesbians were also subjected to torture and psychiatric treatment. Today, being gay or lesbian in Russia is no longer illegal, but still considered a "perversion".
Government Opinion of Gays:
In February 2007, Mayor Yuri Luzhkov banned what was to be the first gay pride parade in Moscow. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov believed homosexuality was unnatural and described same-sex love as "satanic". He also believed a gay pride festival in Moscow would cause public outcry.
In response, gay rights groups sued the city unsuccessfully. Organizers held the parade anyway. The illegal festival ended in violence. Approximately 100 religious and nationalist extremists attacked festivals participants and 200 gays were also arrested for violating the ban.
Festival organizer Nikolai Alexeyev told the BBC's World Today, "This event was just the opportunity for us to say no to homophobia and to attract the media attention to this problem and to attract the attention of the authorities."
Weeks before the festival, 39 right-wing and religious activists were arrested for picketing and shouting slurs at patrons leaving a gay nightclub.
Gay Marriage in Russia:
Same-sex marriage is illegal in Russia. Marriage traditions are heavily influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church, which sees homosexuality as a perversion. (Also read Gay Marriage Around the World)
Gay Adoption in Russia:
For the same aforementioned reasons, gay and lesbian couple adoption is not allowed. In addition, the State Duma makes intercountry adoption very difficult. (More on Adoption in Russia)
HIV in Russia:
According to About.com HIV/AIDS guide Mark Cichocki, "The Cold War has been over for years. But for the people of what used to be the mighty Soviet Union the battle against HIV has yet to begin. Russia is in the midst of an HIV epidemic expanding at a frightening pace." Read more of Mark's feature report on HIV Around the World - The Russian Federation.