Homophobia and the Law

How, in general, does law facilitate the social construction of certain issues or groups as social problems? How does this apply to the Russian law in question? In other words, how does this law facilitate the social construction of a social problem, and what precisely is the nature of the social problem that is constructed through this law?

 Homophobia, among other social problems, is one of the more controversial topics to discuss in today’s society. Nations, such as Canada, have recently changed much of their legislation, including allowing same-sex marriages to now occur. With many more people becoming more understanding and accepting of same-sex marriages, there are also people who are extremely opposed to it for their own beliefs. Many social problems exist today and these problems are starting to be reflected through political gestures.

Social problems are sometimes reflected by pieces of legislation. This has become quite the scenario, as recently, Russia has enacted an anti-gay law to show the world that they are not supportive of this community. This is a very large social problem because Russia is home to the 2014 Winter Olympics. This social problem is not a constant problem across the world, but each country has their own views on this topic. The laws were made so Russia could prohibit an issue that they believed would harm their country. However, these laws need to be looked at a little further to understand what they are actually stating. The anti-gay laws are not as harsh as the title would seem. They are not explicitly stating that they are against the LGQTB community. The problem they are stating is that, according to their law, in section 6.13.1:

“Homosexualism among minors is – punishable by an administrative fine for citizens in the amount of four thousand to five thousand rubles; for officials –forty thousand to fifty thousand rubles; for legal entities – four hundred thousand to five hundred thousand rubles” (MPetrelis, 2012).

They believe that children at a young age are still susceptible to this propaganda (MPetrelis, 2012). They want to lessen the propaganda so they made these laws to ensure there is very little propaganda occurring during the Olympics. Originally the title makes this law seem very negative and forceful, however after reading the law, it’s not as alarming as I first thought. Also, the laws do not apply to the athletes during the Olympics which also helps lower the issue (Vancouversun, 2013). They want to control this issue and do not want young children seeing these images. The propaganda is the main concern for the creators of this legislation. Even though this many not be the correct way to approach this issue, this is no violation of rights and is a way to control a social problem.

This is not the only country to show their protest for a social problem through a form of legislation. For example, from an earlier “Food for Thought” question, it was discovered that Quebec’s Premiere was planning to introduce a new charter of Quebec Values. In this charter, there was a law that would

“support the idea of a secular public sphere by prohibiting public servants from displaying overtly religious headwear, clothing, and ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols. It would also require those who seek to use state services to uncover their faces” (Larsen, 2013).

This could be shown as an act of discrimination and racism. Certain laws are facilitated in a way that social problems are not directly stated. The law in this example was used in Quebec to facilitate the problem of race without explicitly stating so. The law can be seen as a means to keep order and peace by eliminating religious cards in a public setting. This may be seen as controversial to other people across the world, but in certain cities, people are raised with their own ideas of a social problem. In conclusion, laws do facilitate social construction of issues, whether they are politically correct or incorrect is another issue. These laws are made to ensure the country can control an issue that they believe to be a social problem.

 Works Cited

Vancouver Sun. (2013). Putin Pledges Athletes will Feel ‘Comfortable’ in Sochi. Retrieved November 19th, 2013 fromhttp://www.vancouversun.com/life/Putin+pledges+athletes+will+feel+comfortable+Sochi/9095421/story.html

MPetrelis. (2012). Full English Text of Russia’s Anti-Gay Law. Retrieved November 19th, 2013 from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/11/1082469/-Full-English-text-of-Russia-s-anti-gay-law

Larsen, Michael. (2013). Food for Thought: Morality, Law, and the Charter of Québec Values. Retrieved November 20th, From https://kpulawandsociety.wordpress.com



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One response to “Homophobia and the Law

  1. In terms of the social construction of social problems, the law in question plays a role in *constructing* the social problem of ‘homosexual propaganda’.

    This act of social construction rests on the perpetuation of a myth – that the gay community actively recruits ‘normal’ youth and converts them into homosexuals. This is an old, tired, characterization. It has been central to homophobic campaigns in Canada and other western countries. There is no evidence to suggest that such recruiting takes place. However, by constructing the phenomenon of recruiting, it becomes possible to criminalize activities that can be conceptualized as propaganda – wearing a Pride button, distributing literature on gay rights, offering sex-ed workshops that extend beyond heterosexual sex, offering support and counseling services for bullied gay youth, etc.

    It is important to note that the same activities, when directed towards heterosexual youth and framed in a heteronormative manner – are not considered propaganda, much less ‘recruiting’.

    This is how the law is implicated in the social construction of a social problem.