A member of Russia's parliament is speaking out against the nation's controversial "gay propaganda" legislation.
As both the Wall Street Journal and Buzzfeed are reporting, Maria Maksakova is also a prominent opera star, and pointed specifically to the law's impact on Russian performers and artists who are hoping to take their work abroad.
"We are seeing extremely negative consequences as a result of this law, with the growth of hate crimes,” Maksakova said during a recent meeting of the liberal wing of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, which was captured in a video posted by a Moscow newspaper. “Now we have a horrible problem, including with our investment climate, because for our artists it has become more and more difficult to work abroad.”
A mezzo soprano soloist with St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater, Maksakova added: “I am very sad to see that the Olympic Games in Sochi for which we have so long and anxiously prepared will come to pass with less brilliance and passion because of this unfortunate initiative that was so hastily -- and I believe without thoughtful discussion -- adopted by parliament.”
The Wall Street Journal confirmed the authenticity of the Russian language video, which can be viewed above, with both a spokesman for Maksakova and a participant in the meeting.
According to a HuffPost translation, Maksakova added, "I’m not against our family values, but couldn’t we take 'non-traditional' out of this law through amendments? And expand the law, so that any harmful propaganda of a sexual character to minors became inadmissible ... foreigners don't see anything past the word 'Non-traditional' and the Russian artists trying to work abroad can't just explain that this is not discrimination, but instead the public's attempt to protect the children. Once they see this first line of the law, they are not all curious to see what the law is really intending to convey."
A host of international celebrities including Madonna, Lady Gaga and Elton John have all criticized the law, but Maksakova is one of the few people in the Russian government to take a public stance on the legislation, which reportedly imposes fines for those who "spread information about non-traditional sexual behavior" to minors.
Earlier this month, Putin defended his government's anti-gay policies in his state of the nation address. According to the Associated Press, he stated that the traditional family values he supports defend against "so-called tolerance — genderless and infertile."
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama announced that he would be sending two openly gay delegates to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The move, which Obama announced last week, was widely considered a possible jab at Putin's policies against gay rights.
HuffPost translation provided by Irina Dvalidze.