I am in Arkhangelsk today. Yesterday Arkhangelsk met me with snow that melted immediately. Local organization “Rakurs”(“Perspective”) invited me to the penal discussion concerning "gay propaganda" law and its consequences. There were doctors from Norway, Arkhangelsk, the local Ministry of Justice, but they kept silence and just watched. People of gender organizations, of women's rights, representatives of the church, people from the LGBT organizations also took part. I was surprised that the citizens of Arkhangelsk succeeded in holding this penal discussion during the rise of xenophobia in the country, and despite the fact that xenophobia is beginning to take a very radical and dangerous form.
The conversation lasted about 3 hours. We talked about the traditional society, about the church, Tchaikovsky, economic losses, political costs, AIDS, and sexual education. I generally spoke about comparison of the marginalization of LGBT people and the socialization of people released from prison — the state and civil society activists make huge efforts and spend a lot of resources for socialization of a significant part of the society (prisoners, homeless people, orphans, disabled, etc.), and thus there are more and more new laws referred to marginalization of some parts of society, but we don’t want to give the time of day. In several years we’ll be ashamed of what is happening in Russia today.
In my opinion, the main watershed of the discussion was conversation about the fact that the emotional marginalizing attitude to certain minorities blocks the rational approach, and it is necessary to fight somehow with these emotions, otherwise the next generation will have to face the consequences of our emotional actions. It is clear that emotions are common to people, but we must understand that the emotions will get us only so far. It is necessary to understand people's feelings, to help people experience these feelings but not to be guided by them. Only the cold calculation in relation to economic and political losses followed by the development of various phobias in the state can improve the situation and most importantly can help to keep the integrity of the Russian society. The "divide and conquer" method won’t work here.