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By enshrining the framework of universalization in both recent “scholarship” and the legal code, the Russian government has hardened disinformation that will harm the queer community for many years. During the AIDS and HIV crisis, the Russian government weaponized disinformation in an attempt to “eliminate” queer people through a campaign known as Operation Denver. They refused to provide information to medical professionals, as well as fostered the spread of disinformation within fearful communities of uninformed people. Because of this disinformation that the Russian government spread to its citizens as well as medical professionals, the HIV and AIDS crisis cost millions of queer lives. In 2013, the Russian government enacted a law, deemed the “Gay Propaganda Law”, that prevents children from seeing or hearing any information about queer people. Some “scholars” and influential journalists have released disinformation stating that being queer is a choice and is something that anyone can either choose or choose not to be – subscribing to the framework of universalization. From the HIV and AIDS crisis in the 1980’s, through 2013 when the “Gay Propaganda Law” was enacted, and continuing today with “scholarly” pseudo-science that claims anyone can become gay, it is clear that Russia has remained one of the most homophobic nations in the world. However, despite the Russian government’s continued targeting of queer people, LGBTQ people still exist and live in Russia. These laws and disinformation campaigns harm real people, and it is important to acknowledge and understand this in order to prevent this from happening elsewhere.



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The Russian Government, Unreliable Scholars, and Homophobic Disinformation