Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Russians, English academies against homosexuality

In the case of the various academies in England, the apparent attempt to return to the days of Section 28 by the back door seems to have been inadvertent. The web-sites and statements of policy of the academies seem to have been cut-and-pasted from a document originating from before the repeal. (One recalls the embarrassment caused to the oil companies and the environmental authorities by a similar unthinking paste job for the Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling operations.) The swiftness with which schools acted to take down the offending statement, after being contacted by the Indy or Stephen Williams MP, rather bears this out.

The Russians, on the other hand, have knowingly not moved out of the 19th century. So far from repealing discriminatory legislation, they have enshrined anti-LGBT prejudice in law. There is a growing movement to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi as a result. Stephen Fry's letter to the PM calling for such a boycott has made waves. It is unlikely that either the British or American teams will officially be withdrawn, but there may well be individual withdrawals by both straight and gay competitors.

It continues to puzzle me that Russia has yet to recognise the contribution which gays have made to the nation in the past, not least in the arts.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky is the prime and well-known example, but just from music alone, Balakirev and Glazunov were probably homosexual also, though whether practising or not we will probably never know. Among performers, the great Sviatoslav Richter felt he had to contract a lavender partnership to keep the homophobes quiet. And perhaps Anatoly Vedernikov, who was just another name when I bought the Russian MK LP (sleeve alongside) of Prokofiev's fourth piano concerto, was another who had to keep his sexuality secret. It was noticeable that he didn't tour in the West until his latter years after the Iron Curtain came down, though he managed to have a career in Japan alongside his Soviet one.

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