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Vladimir Putin’s Government: Controversial Anti-Gay Law Essay



News is a popular medium of discourse that has the ability to project information in a form, which may provide a biased or one-sided view of the issue. Such a newscast is often termed as framed news. Framing of different pieces of news implies selective projection that creates a fractured paradigm. Such news captures some truth about the information and represents a perceived notion about the real situation.

Hence, a problem is represented from a different point of view, i.e., the framed news may provide a moral or causal interpretation of reality. The aim of this essay is to analyze the news of the Russian government under Vladimir Putin passing the controversial anti-gay law. The essay will first describe the pieces of news published at various newspapers and then analyze them based on the issues that have been highlighted there and the areas that have not been projected.

Anti-gay law in Russia

This section will describe the anti-gay law discussed in the news media. For the purpose of this research, news articles from the Internet have been selected for understanding the nature of framing of this particular news item.

The dispute over the anti-gay law passed by Vladimir Putin government in Russia has erupted a great controversy over the issue of tolerance of Russians toward gay rights. The polemical law passed by the Russian government bans imparting any information regarding homosexuality’s rights to children. This is a direct attack against the gay rights movement, which may be affected by this law as it limits their right to hold public meetings and demonstrations. The law allows officials to fine people who publicly demonstrate for gay rights. The bill was passed on June 3, 2013 (Russia passes anti-gay-law n. pag.).

After the law had been passed, the western media viciously attacked the Russian government for its intolerance towards homosexuality. The western media accused the Russian government of its oppressive law against gays. The articles present this perspective of the western media towards the anti-gay bill passed by the Russian government in 2013.


Given this backdrop, it is essential to understand how the western media has criticized the anti-gay law. The paper will look at the news articles from western newspapers like the Guardian, New Yorker, New York Times, and Washington Post. The research agenda is to understand the way the news of anti-gay law in Russia has been framed in western media. For this purpose, the paper analyses a few of the popular newspapers in the UK and the USA. The news articles on anti-gay law in these newspapers will be checked in order to understand the following:

  1. The issues highlighted.
  2. The issues are left out or underemphasized.
  3. Sources and experts gave credibility.
  4. Sources and experts discredited or omitted.
  5. Use of language and stereotyped images.

The analyses of the content of the news articles based on the above parameters will show the way the news has been framed by the western media. The articles considered for the analyses were published in 2013 and 2014.

The Issues Highlighted

The article released by the Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, presented the anti-gay law passed by Vladimir Putin’s government. It demonstrated in the highlighted portion of the article that the law is against the gay movement and that whoever engages in dissemination of “homosexual relationship to minors” is at a risk of facing fines. Apparently, this small news article does not present the entire picture.

The issue of the article is highlighted in the title itself – “Russia passes anti-gay-law.” The effort made, as suggested by the news article, is on the part of the Russian government to uphold Russian values and tradition against the corrupt liberalism of the West. The law, as the article projects, is a popular view among the Russian orthodox lobby that believes that the law will save Russia from corrupt youth who have mostly protested against Putin’s rule.

Table 1.

News Media Date of Publication Issues Highlighted Omitted Issues Expert Credited Experts Discredited Use of Language
Guardian 30 June 2013 The law and its main points of being anti-gay law The reasons why the Russian government feels this law is important to have been omitted Orthodox Russian church The language of the article is succinct and acerbic.
Guardian 5 February 2014 The autocratic law in Russia against the LGBT community The reason why the law was legislated Gay right activists Stonewall report Unbiased, critical
New York Times 21 July 2013 Russian government’s anti-gay crackdown is discussed as an intolerant act The plight of the gay community Vladimir Putin’s comments Acerbic, critical and direct attacks against the Russian government
New Yorker 13 December 2013 Anti-gay law in Russian and Winter Olympics Roman Kalinin, a gay activist Critical
Washington Post 29 January 2013 Furore produced by anti-gay bill Kolmanovsky, a scientist and gay activist Putin’s comments Critical and caustic
Washington Post 29 September 2013 The effect of anti-gay law on Winter Olympics and Sochi community A gay teenager from Sochi Putin Sympathetic and mordant

The next article discussed was published in the UK newspaper Guardian on February 5, 2014 (Bennetts n.pag.). The article begins with a photo-shoot of a Russian gay activist, Nikolai Alexeyev, attacked by a violent mob during a protest against the anti-gay law passed in Russia. The article highlights the fact that the law limits gay rights and that the Russian activists who have tried to protest against it have faced violent mob attacks. The issues that the article highlights are as follows:

  1. Noted celebrities like Stephen Fry and Jay Leno have compared the anti-gay law of Russia to the Nazi persecutions of Jews.
  2. Gay activists have claimed that the protestors of gay rights were brutally beaten up while the inactive law enforcers were passive watchers.
  3. The article presents the dogmatic point of view of the Russian authorities towards the anti-gay law.
  4. The article emphasizes that international solidarity towards the gay community in Russia is necessary; however, it contends that they can be of little help and states that Putin acted in an authoritarian manner.
  5. The article, apart from demonstrating the intolerance of the Russian government towards the gay community, also points out laws against the gay community in other countries like the USA, Nigeria, Syria, etc.

An article published in Global Mail shows how the Russian government categorically framed its adoption law from foreign nations (Russian orphans: Collateral damage in Putin’s anti-gay campaign n. pag.). It claims that Russia banned adoption even by heterosexual couples from countries like Canada that legalized same-sex marriage. This demonstrates the outrage of the country’s government towards the liberal countries. However, the article shows that after months of criticism and demonstration against this law, Russia decided to introduce some technical changes before the beginning of the Olympics, which allow heterosexual couples to avoid the ban.

An opinion editorial article published in the New York Times points out the issues of intolerance of the Russian government and brutally attacked Vladimir Putin (Fierstein n. pag.). The anti-gay laws were not restricted to the ban of the discourse of homosexuality to minors. Before the Winter Olympics, Putin signed another legislation that allowed Russian police to arrest anyone they suspected as homosexuals. They even classified “homosexual propaganda as pornography” (Fierstein n. pag.). The article points out that the Putin regime is inclined to “criminalize” homosexuality and directly launches a vicious attack on it.

Articles published in the Washington Post raised the same issue of the Russian government’s atrocious law against the gay community (Lally n. pag.). The article demonstrates the act of intolerance committed by the Russian authorities and points out that the law put many gay athletes under the shadow of fear. Further, the article presents the pressure that the gay community faces in Russia due to the authoritative, intolerant regime. An interview with a teenage gay boy living in Sochi demonstrates the fear and anxiety of a gay person living in Russia.

The outrage of the international community over the anti-gay law has been demonstrated in two other articles published by Remnick in New Yorker and by Lally in Washington Post. Both the articles outspokenly criticize the law passed by the Putin government in Russia and condemn it. Further, it presents some points of view of the protestors who have undertaken an active role in denouncing and fighting against such an authoritarian regime.

The issues that have been delineated through the analysis of the six articles show that all of them have taken a stance against the autocratic anti-gay law passed by the Russian government. All of them have condemned it as autocratic and intolerant. The issues have mostly emphasized Putin’s cultural morale in regard to western society and uphold the opinion to be a savior of the true values of the Russian culture and tradition.

Underemphasized Issues

The issues that the articles have mostly overlooked, except for a few, are the condition of the gay community after the law had been put into effect. The activists have definitely taken the strongest wrath of the authorities and the pro-anti-gay-bill community. However, the condition of gay people living in Russia has not been documented in the articles. The articles have overemphasized Putin’s comparison of the western culture with the satanic woes. However, the articles fail to capture the comments of the people who are supporting the law. An unbiased report of the issue would have documented the views of both the sides. The articles only present the autocratic comments of Vladimir Putin but does not present any comments of people who may support the law.

Sources and Experts Given Credibility

The sources that have been given credit are the ones who have denounced the anti-gay law. The experts who have been presented in a positive light are gay activists. They have been presented as the source that demonstrates the plight of the gay community in Russia. The views that they have aired are upheld as the Bible for demonstrating the condition of the gay people in Russia. In an article published in Washington Post, Lally (n. pag.) shows the plight of a teenage gay boy who lives in mortal fear in Sochi.

In fact, the teenager disclosed his sexual orientation and views at school where the school councillor asked him to consider changing his “sexual outlook” (Lally n. pag.). According to the young boy, he did not morally support a ban on the Winter Olympics, but he would have been happier if there had been a pro-gay demonstration at the Olympic event.

Grigory Golsov, a gay activist, commented, “This is part of a concentrated effort by the Russian authorities to create a new political cleavage between the conservative, pro-Putin majority and the more liberal, pro-Western minority,” in an article published in Washington Post (Lally, Russian anti-gay bill sets off furor, par. 5). Further, a medical practitioner Boris Malenkov has commented that the Russian culture was against the homosexuality issue, which had been ingrained in the social discourse, “The Great Soviet Encyclopedia referred to homosexuality as “a manifestation of Western decadence”(Remnick par. 5).

The other sources that have been given credit in the articles are gay activists like Roman Kalinin, Nikolai Alexey, Kolmanovsky, etc. Further, the authorities that have written the editorial have attacked the Russian government for their intolerance towards the gay community.

Sources and Experts Discredited or Omitted

All the articles have cited comments of Vladimir Putin, the head of Russian government. All the pieces of news under the study have pointed out that Putin was up to the decriminalization of homosexuals. In the New York Times article, Fierstein points out that there is a categorical strategy that Putin has undertaken to demonise the homosexuals:

He (Putin) has defended his actions by saying that the Russian birthrate is diminishing and that Russian families as a whole are in danger of decline… Mr. Putin’s campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook. (Fierstein par. 10-11)

This demonstrates that Mr. Putin’s idea regarding gay people is demeaning. The views that have not been sanctioned by any of the articles reviewed should have been presented by the pro-anti-gay-law, however, their opinions have been discredited. One of the articles has also discredited all the kinds of discriminatory laws, even in countries like Nigeria, Syria, and the USA that are derogatory of homosexuality (Remnick).

Use of Language and Stereotype

The language that has been used in the articles condemning the anti-gay law passed by Putin is acerbic and caustic. The articles condemn the act of discrimination against the gay community. The authors have slashed out against the Putin regime with caustic adjectives likes autocratic. The Putin government has more than once been compared with the Nazi regime and their anti-gay law a systematic means of obliterating the gay community from Russia. A few of the words and phrases that have been repeatedly found in the articles are anti-gay-bill, Nazi, autocratic, discriminatory act, intolerance, etc. Further, those who have supported the idea of anti-gay bill have continually projected the bill as a fight against the degradation of the morals of the west in irder to uphold the Russian traditions.


The essay aimed to study the anti-gay bill and the response it raised in the western press. It can be deduced that the western papers have demonised Russia as an anti-gay country and has framed Vladimir Putin as a dictator who was strategically moving towards effacing the gay community in the country. The essay confirms that there has been framing of the anti-gay law of Russia in western media where the media has categorically omitted their discriminatory attitude towards gays.

Works Cited

Bennetts, Marc. “” 2014. The Guardian. Web.

Fierstein, Harvey. “” 2013. New York Times. Web.

Lally, Kathy. “Russia anti-gay law casts a shadow over Sochi’s 2014 Olympics.” 2013. Washington Post. Web.

—”Russian anti-gay bill sets off furor.” 2013. Washington Post. Web.

Remnick, David. “” 2013. New Yorker. Web.

” 2013. The Guardian. Web.

” 2014. The Globe and Mail. Web.

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"Vladimir Putin's Government: Controversial Anti-Gay Law." IvyPanda, 25 Mar. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/vladimir-putins-government-controversial-anti-gay-law/.

1. IvyPanda. "Vladimir Putin's Government: Controversial Anti-Gay Law." March 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/vladimir-putins-government-controversial-anti-gay-law/.


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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Vladimir Putin's Government: Controversial Anti-Gay Law'. 25 March.

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