The federal anti-"propaganda" bill threatens the progress made since Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993. Even if the bill isn't comprehensively enforced, antigay authorities at the local level will be able to use it to persecute LGBT people, and it legitimizes hatred is in a country with a persistent problem of antigay hate crime. Its indirect consequences could therefore be deadly.
President Obama has pledged to lead internationally on LGBT rights, and to that end, he met with Russian LGBT activists (among other activists) during the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg. But as we recommend in our report--Convenient Targets: The Anti-Propaganda Law and the Threat to LGBT Rights in Russia--the President should ground his opposition to Russia's antigay law in a more consistent position vis-à-vis countries that criminalize homosexuality. This would not only be the right thing to do; it would help demonstrate that his criticism of Russia's backslide on LGBT freedom is a matter of fundamental human rights, not a selective move in an increasingly testy bilateral relationship.
Homosexuality is illegal in more than seventy countries, and it's punishable by death in at least five and possibly in as many as seven. Many of these countries are key U.S. allies, frequent recipients of American aid, arms, and praise, including these ten.
Afghanistan. The United States has spent enormous money and energy trying to strengthen the government of Afghanistan, which came to power due to the U.S. invasion. Although Afghanistan is still officially an Islamic Republic, there have been no recorded executions for homosexuality since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. But "pederasty," the term used in the law to describe all same-sex relations, is still a serious offense, and in 2004 an American adviser to the government was arrested and jailed for allegedly having sex with an Afghan.