Already known for its beyond abysmal treatment for LGBTQ citizens, Russia is once again showing that the community is more than unwelcome. Vitaly Molonov (already firmly established as a strongly anti-LGBTQ former Russian Prime Minister) presents his own game show, with an alarming and massively offensive premise. The game show is titled “I’m Not Gay” and contestants are tasked with finding out which of them is actually gay (you can watch the first episode here). At the end of each episode, the eight contestants must elect the contestant they think is the gay contestant. The two million ruby (£21,000) prize awaits men to share if they are able to guess correctly, and if the gay man passes the competition without being identified, he will be the contestant who takes the money back to the home.
Molonov was a member of the State Duma and already had a far-right reputation and is in fact credited with writing the toughest anti-gay propaganda law in the country. His disturbing and bigoted feelings towards the LGBTQ community definitely carry over to his role in “I’m Not Gay.” Molonov says things like “Finding a gay man in our country is like finding a working McDonald’s,” They do exist, but there are very few of them and not everyone knows them. At the end of the first episode, when the wrong person is eliminated, Molonov says they had “killed an innocent”.
Russian laws continue to be extreme and decidedly against the LGBTQ community in every way. Same-sex marriage remains legal and continues to be a crime to promote a “gay lifestyle” to minors in Russia. Human Rights Watch interviewed a number of young people in Russia, where they said they had (according to HRW) an intense sense of isolation, which they attributed to persistent anti-LGBT rhetoric and hostile social attitudes. Their sense of isolation was exacerbated, they said, by the “gay propaganda” straight. Also, coming out isn’t necessarily the main issue, but it’s about finding accurate and true information about gender and sexuality in this extremely sectarian environment.
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