Russians still oppose gay marriage, become more tolerant of gay unions

Homophobia is widespread in Russian public opinion and attitudes to homosexuals have not changed over the past few years, a poll conducted by the Levada Center in July shows.

Like two years ago, three-fourths of Russians (43 percent) believe that gays and lesbians are people with low morals and 32 percent believe they are mentally ill. Only 17 percent of the respondents believe homosexuals have the same right to sexual orientation as straight people.

The poll, which surveys adults, was conducted in 130 populated areas of 45 regions of Russia.

In the meantime, the respondents were divided on whether gays and lesbians should have the same rights as straight people: 46 percent of the respondents said they should have the same rights as straight people and 40 percent believe the rights of gays and lesbians should be restricted. Thirteen percent of the respondents said they are undecided.

The issue of the introduction of a law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation also caused division in public opinion: 38 percent of the respondents spoke in support of this law, 36 percent said they are against it to some degree, and 26 percent were undecided.

The poll showed that Russians' attitude to same-sex marriage somewhat changed in the past two years. In 2010, 84 percent of the respondents said same-sex marriage should not be allowed in Russia while 14 percent said it should be allowed, and now the percentage is 77 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Fifty-seven percent of the respondents (against 43 percent in 2010) now speak against the criminal prosecution (including imprisonment) for consensual homosexuality among adults. The percentage of respondents who support such measures has gone down almost 10 percent (from 31 to 22 percent).

In the meantime, an overwhelming majority of the respondents (82 percent,) said they would not like gay pride parades to be held regularly in Russia's cities. Fourteen percent of the respondents back such parades or are tolerant of them. Twenty-one percent of the respondents were undecided.

On August 16, the Moscow City Court upheld a ban imposed by the Moscow government on gay pride parades for the next 100 years, from March 2012 to May 2112," Moscow gay pride parade activist Nikolai Alekseyev told Interfax on Friday. Thus, the court declined Alekseyev's cassation appeal seeking a retrial of the case by the Moscow City Court Presidium.

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