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Lawmaker who wants gays flogged says Russian public needs protection

Lawmaker who wants gays flogged says Russian public needs protection

CHITA, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia — A Siberian region lawmaker who advocates publicly flogging of gays, said Tuesday he intends to establish a group to protect Russians from homosexuals.

Alexander Mikhalov, who last month proposed a legislative measure to allow the Russian military and local authorities to flog homosexuals with a leather whip in civic areas such as central town or city squares, said homosexuals are not harmless “and they force us to defend ourselves.”

“Real attacks on normal people are underway,” Mikhalov said Tuesday. “We have to re-educate [homosexuals], or treat them. Homosexuality is a dead-end in Russia’s evolution.”

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The idea of creating a group to defend citizens against homosexuals is supported by large swathes of society, Mikhailov claimed, adding that gay people were particularly “active” on the internet.

“We must attract attention to this problem,” he said.

Mikhalov’s statements underscore anti-LGBT sentiments in Russia, which has led to a rise in anti-gay violence.

Russia has recently approved controversial legislation that seeks to ban the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships,” while still insisting that gays have the same rights as other people. A Kremlin statement said that measure is intended to guarantee children a “harmonious” upbringing and protect them from “complexes, emotional suffering and stress.

President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law on June 30.

Last week, Putin also signed into law a bill that sharply limits the adoption of Russian children by people from countries that allow same-sex marriage. The new law prohibits adoption by same-sex foreign couples whose homeland recognizes their union as marriage, as well as by single people or unmarried couples from those countries.

In the past four months, there have been several homophobic-fueled attacks on pro-gay rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and two men have been killed in attacks motivated by anti-gay bias.

An opinion poll by the Russian pollster firm Levada earlier this spring found that only 12 percent of Russians polled considered homosexuality as normal sexual behavior equal to heterosexual relations.

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