Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov says the threat of HIV/AIDS is a reason why gays and lesbians should be banned from participating in the public life of his city. During a Dec 4 appearance at an HIV/AIDS conference, the Mayor also said that condoms don’t offer full protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
“We have banned, and will ban, the propaganda of sexual minorities’ opinions because they can be one of the factors in the spread of HIV infection,” said the 72-year-old Luzhkov, according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
During his tenure as mayor, Luzhkov has repeatedly caused international outcry among activists and allies by banning gay rights marches. He claims the crackdowns are motivated by concerns for public safety.
HIV/AIDS is on the rise on Russia. According to Agence France-Presse, the Russian federal AIDS center says that as many as 50,000 Russians could contract the HIV virus that leads to AIDS in 2008, which would represent an 11.8 percent increase from 2007.
Although Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, intolerance remains high, particularly because of the influence of the anti-gay Russian Orthodox Church and the perception that gays and lesbians are unhelpful to population growth. The country has long battled the problem of declining birth rates and unhealthy habits, like smoking and heavy drinking, which reduce life expectancy among adults.