By Dianne Skoll
LGBT Perspectives columnist
Imagine a European power that had been involved in a conflict with many of its neighbours, a conflict it later lost. This European power felt humiliated by the loss. Its economy became troubled. Its people became disaffected.
‘On the bright side, the country had moved from dictatorship to a tenuous fledgling democracy, and things were looking quite hopeful for a while. But then, as the economy worsened and people longed for the glory days, a strongman took over the country. He gradually tightened restrictions on the press. He consolidated his grip on power and began eliminating enemies, by political means when possible
or through violence and intimidation otherwise.
To distract his people from their problems, the dictator embarked on a series of military adventures, first interfering in neighbouring states and then, when he saw no strong reaction from the world, becoming bold enough to invade and annex part of a neighbouring country.
The dictator made clever uses of symbolism and nationalistic myth in order to stir up pride in his populace. Most sinister of all, the dictator targeted a minority for special oppression, using them as scapegoats and to distract attention from real problems.
At first, there was unofficial or quasi-official prejudice against members of the minority. Police looked the other way when the minority members were harassed. Gradually, more and more restrictions were put in place until eventually laws were passed that limited what members of this minority could say and limited their opportunities to defend themselves from oppression and violence.
I’ll stop now because I think you all recognize the European power, the dictator and the oppressed minority. In case you don’t, I’ll spell it out:
Russia, Vladimir Putin and the LGBT community.
After the initial international outcry over the draconian anti-gay legislation in Russia, little protest is being voiced in the West now. That’s a mistake. Western governments must keep up the pressure on Russian authorities to stop the oppression of LGBT people. We must not keep silent . . .
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey