U.S. Conservatives Point to Russia and Declare ‘We’ll Have What They’re Having’ Regarding LGBTQ+ Repression

Supreme Court of Russia.

Well, they did it. They expelled George Santos from Congress. I honestly didn’t think it would happen. Let’s pour one out for George “Proud Gay Thief” Santos, as “Saturday Night Live” called him.

I have to admit, I did not follow the Santos saga very closely. There’s just a lot going on in the world, and I only have so much time for Congressional nonsense (and let’s face it, a whole lot of nonsense happens in Congress).

Pretty wild that most of the Republicans who decided that enough was enough with Santos and his felony counts still back disgraced former President Donald Trump. I guess they figure that while they do need Trump to make their fascist dreams come true, they don’t need Santos. So boy, bye.

Speaking of Trump, Russian President and Trump friend Vladimir Putin is in the news for something other than his disgusting war against Ukraine. Last year, you may remember, Putin “described the West and an alleged global LGBTQ+ movement as existential threats to Russian cultural values and traditions,” according to The Advocate.

Well, Russia’s Supreme Court “has declared what it calls ‘the international LGBT public movement’ an extremist organization and banned its activities across the country,” according to the BBC. Less than 48 hours later, according to The Advocate, police “raided at least four LGBTQ+ establishments in Moscow.”

On Bluesky (which I have switched to after dumping Twitter/X) someone posted about the Russian Supreme Court ruling and the raids declaring, “It’s a shame to see Russia turning into Florida.” This made me laugh, but in a very much “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” kind of way, because wow things are messed up worldwide.

The ruling is expected to have dire consequences for LGBTQ+ people in Russia.

“I think this will mean that anyone whom the state considers an LGBT activist could receive a long prison sentence for ‘participating in an extremist organization.’ For the organizer of such a group, the prison term will be even longer,” Sergei Troshin, a gay municipal deputy in St. Petersburg told the BBC. “This is real repression. There is panic in Russia’s LGBT community. People are emigrating urgently. The actual word we’re using is evacuation. We’re having to evacuate from our own country. It’s terrible.”

Others concur.

“There is little if any doubt that [this decision] will lead to the persecution of LGBTI activists, undoing decades of their brave and dedicated work, while threatening to inspire and legitimize whole new levels of violence against LGBTI persons across Russia,” Marie Struthers, director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “We call on the Russian authorities to immediately review this ruling. The international community must stand in solidarity with the Russian LGBTI community, demanding an end to these oppressive actions and safeguarding the principles of equality, freedom and justice for all.”

U.S. LGBTQ+ activists have long been fighting for “equality, freedom and justice for all,” but we are also having our setbacks. And what’s happening in Russia is no doubt inspiration for those who want to see us disappear here.

Make no mistake, what’s happening in Russia is exactly what extremists want to have happen in the United States. Florida is a good example of a state that is really going hard to make life as miserable as possible for LGBTQ+ people there and back allies into a corner so that they’re too afraid to do things like challenge book bans or let trans kids play sports, lest they lose their jobs.

Is Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as smart and cunning as Putin? No, no they are not. But the infrastructure has already been put in place for a fascist takeover of the U.S. government. As you have doubtless heard before, Jan. 6, 2021 was a dress rehearsal. Since then, support for Trump has hardly wavered. And should he become the president again, you can bet that it’ll make his first term look totally chill in comparison to what he will do next.

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living life with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter.