Moscow, June 30, 2020
Despite the Trump administration’s stance against flying LGBT flags on embassy flag poles and despite a Russian law that bans LGBT propaganda that can or will be seen by children, the U.S. embassy in Moscow decided to fly the LGBT rainbow flag on its building last Thursday in honor of LGBT Pride Month.
The British embassy in Moscow did the same two days later, just days before Russians are to vote on a number of constitutional amendments, including to constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman.
“Today, the US Embassy in Russia is honoring THE LGBTI Pride Flag during the #PrideFlagDay celebration… LGBTI rights are human rights. Human rights are universal. Pride month is designed to emphasize that everyone deserves to live a life free from hatred, prejudice and persecution,” reads a message on the embassy’s Facebook page from June 25.
Representatives of the British embassy posted a similar message on their Telegram account on June 27.
Their actions were not warmly received in Russian society.
The Orthodox movement “Forty Forties” [named for the 40x40 churches that existed in Moscow before the revolution—O.C.] held pickets at the embassies on Sunday under the slogan, “Russia has its own values,” with participants holding an icon of the Synaxis of All Saints Who Have Shown Forth in the Russian Land, report RIA-Novosti.
“The Forty Forties movement linked this demarche of the two diplomatic representatives with the fact that the popular vote on the amendments to the Russian constitution began during these days, one of which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, which contradicts the concept of state policy of the U.S.A. and Great Britain of promoting LGBT values in the world,” the movement stated.
The Orthodox activists also noted that the flags were hung in violation of Russian law. “This is illegal and shows disrespect for the laws of the host country by American and British diplomats,” they said.
State Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov has specifically asked Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov to check the incidents for violations of Russian law.
The Moscow Patriarchate voiced its approval of the protests, noting that the demonstration of such symbols is “disrespectful to the worldview of many Russian citizens.”
“We share the concerns of the Orthodox community, which opposed the display of symbols related to sexual minorities at the embassies of the United States and Great Britain. We believe that every country has the right to inviolability of its values, including those related to marriage and family,” Vakhtang Kipshidze, Deputy Head of the Synodal Department of for Relations Between the Church and Society and the Media, told RIA-Novosti on Monday.
The displaying of such symbols is part of a political agenda that leads to discrimination against people of traditional beliefs, he also noted.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that he believes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is looking into the situation.