April 3, 2015 – Reported by the Huffingpost.com – ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Alevtina is one of several teachers who lost their jobs in St. Petersburg after being outed by an anti-gay activist. While most resigned quietly, the 27-year-old music teacher decided to fight her dismissal in court — an unusual step in Russia where gays have faced increasing pressure in recent years.
The rising anti-gay sentiment has coincided with the passage of a controversial Russian law that prohibits exposing children to gay “propaganda.” The law has made it easy to target teachers, because they work directly with children.
The hardening of lines against gays is thrown into stark relief by an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. The survey found that Russians’ tolerance of gays has plummeted in recent years, with 51 percent of those surveyed late last year saying they would not want a gay neighbor. This was up from 38 percent in 2012.
A majority of 63 percent said gays should not be accepted in society, with only 20 percent saying they should be accepted. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
The 2013 enactment of the gay propaganda law — which makes it illegal to provide information to children about homosexuality — was a turning point in the deterioration of Russian views of gays, said Nika Yuryeva, a spokeswoman for LGBT rights group Vykhod.
“I can see it even in my family, who are tolerant of my sexual choice, but now I also hear them speaking about the topic using the terms of Russian TV,” Yuryeva said. “To my mind, this law legitimizes the persecution of LGBT people, including the cases of their dismissals or forced resignations from schools.”…story continues below…