Russian Communists must stand against LGBTQ persecution

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My grandparents fled czarist Russia in the beginning of the 20th century when pogroms - government-inspired mob action against Jews - swept that country. The czar's laws made it virtually illegal to be a Jew. History teaches us that the pogroms had other victims too - the Russian people as a whole, who were suffering from war, hunger, and inequality. The pogroms diverted their rage and frustration from the real perpetrators of their suffering and directed it toward a socially isolated and blameless minority.

It was not until the Russian people, with its newborn Communist Party taking the lead, exposed the divisive role of anti-Semitism and pogroms that the working class was able to unite the country and achieve peace, land and bread.

The hateful new legislation passed in Russia in recent weeks - which for all intents and purposes outlaws gay people - lays the groundwork for 21st century pogroms against another isolated and blameless section of the population. Once again it is an attempt to divert the people's anger from the real perpetrators of poverty and inequality, Russia's new ruling class.

It's disturbing to learn that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has lent its support to this disgraceful new law. All of the Russian CP members of parliament voted in favor of it! There can be no explanation of how this furthers the interests of Russia's working class or people, because of course, it doesn't.

We in the U.S. are sharply aware - from our own country's painful history - that state-sanctioned hate - such as Jim Crow laws as well as anti-gay legislation - not only encourages, but actually guarantees violence and terror, lynchings and hate crimes, while at the same time blocking unity of our working class and people. The wave of anti-gay violence and murder in Russia in the weeks since this law was passed is no accident. It is the law's result.

Like communist and workers' parties around the world, the Communist Party USA proudly includes members of the LGBTQ community among its leadership, membership young and old, and allies, co-workers, families and friends. We didn't come to this position as early as we should have. Although we never advocated anti-gay measures, for a long time the CPUSA did not understand the urgency of defending LGBTQ rights as a democratic issue. Today we are stronger, as is our country's labor movement, for recognizing the LGBTQ community as an important ally.

We have a saying, "An injury to one is an injury to all." Diminishing the rights of gays and lesbians diminishes rights for all Russians and creates an anti-democratic mood that allows for mob violence and restriction of rights including those of communists.

Just this week gruesome photographs posted by Russian Nazi gangs document their kidnapping, torture, and murder of suspected gays. Will Russian communists stand against this fascist ideology?

It would honor the legacy of 20 million Soviet citizens who sacrificed their lives to defeat Nazi fascism - another hateful anti-working class ideology - and it would honor the lessons of solidarity the early Russian Communist Party shared with the world if our comrades in Russia would correct their course and embrace the socialist and humanitarian ideal of democratic rights for all.

Roberta Wood is secretary treasurer of the Communist Party USA.

Photo: A gay activist is seized by police during a picket against homophobia on Russia Paratroopers Day, Aug. 2, 2013. Valya Egorshin CC 2.0

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  • an analogy here is the us party's position, which was backward, on LGBT rights. the question becomes who that party in russia sees themselves aligned with. is it the most backward, reactionary forces or that nation's working class. the working class is multiracial, women/men, old, young, believers and non-believers and has people with various sexual orientations. the working class cannot be united by excluding portions of it!

    that party, if it to become one that workers see as their's, must embrace their entire working class & must become again a party of struggle. if that do not, workers themselves will push their struggle forward, with or without them!

    Posted by bruce bostick, 09/06/2013 2:55pm (1 year ago)

  • Excellent article!

    We should recognize, also, that just about everywhere else in the world, the communist and workers' parties are fully in support of gay/lesbian/transgendered rights. In France, this Spring and summer saw a huge fight on the subject of same-sex marriage; the French Communist Party helped lead the fight in favor. In Chile, the same thing is happening. In Cuba, the charge in favor of gay rights is led by Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro and niece of Fidel. In South Africa, the same, and on and on.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 08/17/2013 9:18pm (1 year ago)

  • Homophbia in Russia is like a feudal theocracy risen from the dead.

    Posted by revolution123, 08/17/2013 1:12pm (1 year ago)

  • The new Russian law imposes a fine on individuals and organizations who tell minors about non-traditional sex practices. That's all. It doesn't outlaw gay people. Beyond giving age-appropriate answers to questions of where babies comes from, I can't think of a good reason for adults to be discussing their sexuality with children -- can you?

    Posted by Ann Tai, 08/16/2013 8:23pm (1 year ago)

  • The CPRF became the opposition in Russia not because other communist parties were weak, but because the CPRF was the only party allowed by the Russian government to emerge as the official opposition. A---h--l-s.

    Posted by Tim Steinhelfer, 08/14/2013 10:17pm (1 year ago)

  • Can someone please inform me as to the use/meaning of the letter "Q" at the end of lgbtq ? thank you

    Posted by robert kolker, 08/13/2013 7:59pm (1 year ago)

  • Well said. Ever since high school, when my best friend was gay, this has been an axe I've ground at every opportunity. Thank you. If only the KPRF had as much sense as you.

    Posted by Jillian, 08/13/2013 7:25pm (1 year ago)

  • Good article. I get a little confused over the concern for LGBTQ rights in Russia when nothing is said about their rights in Islamic countries.

    Posted by RiverRat, 08/13/2013 3:22pm (1 year ago)

  • Thanks for this excellent commentary, Bobbie!

    Posted by Tim Yeager, 08/13/2013 12:28am (1 year ago)

  • Robert Wood is a great writer, too bad he doesn't contribute to people's world more often. However, I like the U.S. communist party - it's a dark pink. But I have to say I think a better political ally in Russia would be "A Just Russia Party". The new communists party of russia is worse than the one that governed the soviet union. At least the old communists under Gorbachev were a little more left and pointed out that they disagreed with some of the atrocities of Stalin. The new communist party of russia has taken a turn rightward. They are now Nationalists ! Which is a contradiction to Marxism! - marxism is inherently internationalist! So, I have to detract here and say it would be a more strategic move to back the left wing A Just Russia Party over the new grumpy right wing Communist Party of Russia. No party has been as vocal for it's support FOR former Pres. Medvedev and his government reinvestment/stimulus programs and against those of the more conservative Putin who is part of the "party of crooks and thieves"

    Posted by TD, 08/11/2013 9:17pm (1 year ago)

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