A well-known Russian journalist who also happens to be an out lesbian provided a jarring reality check about what it's like to be LGBT in Russia right now, under the country's strict, broadly defined ban on so-called "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations." Journalist Masha Gessen appeared on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes on Thursday.
Gessen, an out lesbian and mother of three who's been living in Russia for the past 20 years, said the violently anti-LGBT climate is a relatively recent development.
"Things have gotten significantly worse," Gessen told Hayes. "I mean, Russia was never a gay paradise, same-sex marriage was not on the agenda, but Russia was moving in the right direction… [But] in the last year and a half, it's been moving backwards. It has been moving back, not only toward extreme homophobia, but this hate campaign has caused extreme violence."
Gessen also confirmed the existence of draft legislation that would remove children from homes headed by same-sex couples, regardless of whether the children are adopted or biologically born to the parents. As the person who was, at one point, the "only out lesbian in Russia," Gessen is confident that if the legislation is passed, her family will be the first targeted. That's why Gessen, a mother of three, is planning to leave her home country for New York.
Gessen also spoke out in favor of myriad international actions — from boycotting Russian vodka to planning demonstrations at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Gessen said any and all efforts that bring attention to Russia's arcane, discriminatory laws help build on pressure to repeal them, or at least stop their proliferation.
"The reason that Russia has done as much, as fast, as hatefully, as violently, is because it felt like nobody was watching."
Watch the entire interview below.