Marco Werman: Russian officials aren't just feeling pressured to finalize Olympic venues. They're under fire, as well, for the country's gay propaganda law. Today, Olympic sponsor AT&T called the law "harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and harmful to a diverse society." Activists say that the law fosters a climate of discrimination. Human rights watch recently put out a video demanding that Russia crack down on anti-gay violence. In the video, and activist describes getting beaten up by a group, and going to the police to report the attack. He says the officers responded "You're gay, it is normal that you were attacked. Why would you need to file a claim against someone?" Christopher Dickey has written about anti-gay discrimination in Europe. Dickey is Paris Chief of the Daily Beast, and he says that there is an important US component to all of this, American evangelists and missionaries, who have played a role in whipping up anti-gay sentiment overseas, especially in places like Russia.
Christopher Dickey : "These same people were fighting against same-sex marriage and fighting against lesbian gay bi and transgender rights in the United States, and they have been hit by a tidal wave of changing opinion where that one state after another has started to recognize gay marriage in America. So, having lost their contingency in the United States, they're tending to go overseas to see if they can't convince governments in say, Uganda and Russia, which may have their own motives. But, they argue that you'd better do something to stop this sexual tide or the same thing will happen to you that happened to the United States, as though that is the worst thing imaginable."
Werman: "Tell us about one, the evangelist Scott Lively. Who is he, and what has he been doing?"
Dickey : "He is a born-again evangelist who decided to make it his cause, back in the 1990s, to fight against homosexuality. And he wrote a book back then, that gained popularity due to its complete weirdness, called “The Pink Swastika”, arguing that the holocaust was the result of homosexuals in the Nazi party; that their sexuality had something to do with their determination to exterminate the Jews. It’s all very, very strange, and his arguments are very strange. And he is regarded in the United States as a kind of a fringe element in the anti-gay anti-same sex marriage lobbies, but in Europe, especially in Russia and especially Africa, this guy is taken very seriously. People listen to him, and he and others like him and others like him are instrumental in helping to pass very draconian anti-gay legislation in a number of countries."
Werman: "And Scott Lively, as well as other anti-right activists, like Paul Cameron and Brian Brown, they have all been involved in Russia's anti-gay propaganda law?"
Dickey : "Yes, they have all been asked to speak in Moscow, before the Dumas and some of its committees, and they have all argued in their own ways that homosexuality is bad, that is damaging to the family, that it threatens children, that homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to adopt children, and so on. Basically, pushing back on all the reforms we've seen taking place in the United States and a lot of countries around the world, and helping to make Russia now the standard bearer of hostility to gay people."
Werman: "So, these evangelists have been fanning the flames of anti-gay sentiment. So, when, at the Sochi Olympics, as many expect in the next couple of weeks, when the rainbow flag will be unfurled, what do you think the effect is going to be. How will they react, these evangelists?"
Dickey : "They will say that it's a vast conspiracy made by the LGBT lobby. That it is a well funded collection of organizations that is trying to destroy families around the world. Why anyone would set out to destroy families around the world I am not sure."
Werman: "Well, you express some concern in the Daily Beast because you actually see the anti-gay propaganda laws in Russia as kind of bleeding into other parts of Europe and kind of being subsumed in growing general intolerance."
Dickey : "That's a real danger. In some sections of Europe, in some parts of European society, and not only in Russia, also here in France, it's considered okay to hate gays and to hate the LGBT lobby, and to say that it's a vast conspiracy out to destroy families. What happens though, here in France, when you have a demonstration, not like the one last weekend but two weeks ago, where that is an issue, where same sex marriage is an issue, and there is a lot of hostility in what is called a day of rage, it's not just about LGBT anymore, it’s about Jews, it's about anti-Semitism, it’s about anti-government, it's about hating just about everything. But, the LGBT issue is used as a catalyst by these people to get a crowd riled and say ' These foreign influences, these Zionists, these people are out to destroy our families and ruin our nation."
Werman: "Christopher Dickey, Paris chief of the Daily Beast. Thank you."