Homophobia in post-soviet countries
This week we spent our time with people from eleven different countries in a youth exchange program organised by “European Youth Voice”. We shared a lot of stories and experiences about refugees situation in Europe but besides that we also talked about plenty of other things. One of the topic which took our interest was attitude in different countries towards LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people. By comparing this information we tried to look for the reasons which have formed the differences. We believe that there is a correlation between post-soviet influence and homophobia.
The situation of LGBT in Latvia is quite bad – Latvian journalist Juris Kaža has said that “Latvia is one of the most homophobic countries in Europe”. The situations in daily life show the same problem – usually LGBT people hide their sexual identity, mainly because of the negative pressure from society. The annual “Pride” usually comes with the protests from more conservative people – the egg throwing, swearing, mobbing etc. Often the negative attitude comes from Christian authorities so the correlation between homophobic view and influence of christianity in Latvia seemed obvious.
However, after this week different reason has emerged. By comparing stories and facts from countries with similar population of Christians seemed that it was not an issue – for example, Portugal and Poland have approximately the same percentage of Christians (90-95%) but the attitude in daily life and laws regarding same-sex partnership is different. In Portugal it is legal to get married while in Poland constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples. We believe that the main difference between these countries in this issue is that Poland is post-soviet country.
Similarly, comparing two countries – the Netherlands and Latvia – where the population of christians is only half of all population (50-60%) but one of them is post-soviet the pattern repeats itself. In Soviet Union LGBT people were unrecognized. There was no homophobia because LGBT people “did not exist” according to the state.
To sum up, after the week we have changed our opinion about the role of Christianity in homophobia and LGBT rights. We can conclude that the do not play such big role as we thought and maybe they can go hand in hand like it is in Portugal. Also, we believe that the time will change the situation in post-soviet countries because we as a youth do not share this history and we will bring new ideas and values to our countries.