5.16.2009

Eurovision and the gays

Russia is rounding up its gays ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest tonight in Moscow:
The arrests included Nikolai Alexeyev, a prominent gay activist in Russia and his associate Nikolai Bayev, Interfax said, adding that more people trickling into the location were being arrested without explanations.

Officials of Moscow's gay community had announced earlier plans to rally at Novopushkinsky Park in central Moscow, Interfax said.

Apparently Moscow is following the "even bad publicity is good publicity" precept of staying on the radar. It's been a busy week for Russian gays, with a rebuffed attempt by two lesbians to marry:
Both women said they had expected their marriage application to be rejected and said they would appeal the decision. They also wanted to bring more attention to gay rights in Russia while the Eurovision contest is going on and there is more media attention to be had.

Meanwhile, over at Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt is thinking about gays in the American military, and comes to an interesting conclusion:
Over time, therefore, we should expect a growing gap between "cosmopolitan" societies that develop institutions and cultures in which diversity and tolerance are prized and where potential conflicts between them are managed well, and more restrictive societies that are either attractive only to a fixed population of particular ethnic identity, or who are face recurring internal conflicts between various contending groups. My bet would be that, other things being equal, the former do better over time.

And note that this argument isn't just about ethnic assimilation. In effect, what I'm suggesting is that from a realist perspective, there is a strong case for "small-l" liberal toleration. All else equal, societies that establish strong norms and institutions that protect individual rights and freedoms (including those governing sexual preference, I might add) will become attractive destinations for a wider array of potential citizens than societies that try to maintain a high degree of uniformity. And when you can choose from a bigger talent pool, over time you're going to do better.

Apparently the anti-gay-marriage crowd wants America to fail.