Just when you thought the daily barrage of awful anti-LGBT news out of Russia couldn't get much worse, a story like this comes out: Mikhail Degtyarev, a senior member of the Russian Federal Assembly (parliament), told reporters in Moscow today that lawmakers in the State Duma -- the body's lower house -- are working on a bill that would offer gays the chance to become "normal" again through so-called "ex-gay" therapy."
They're also seeking to reinstate the country's ban on blood and organ donations from gay men.
Russia Today reports:
"We will suggest amendments to the law on donors that reintroduce homosexuality to the list of contraindications for blood donations in Health Ministry instructions," said State Duma MP Mikhail Degtyarev, who is also a Moscow mayoral candidate from the populist-nationalist party LDPR.
The politician told a news conference in Moscow that in his view such a step could not be considered discriminatory, as 65 percent of all HIV-positive persons are homosexuals. Degtyarev did not give the source of this statistics.
Degtyarev also added that the lower house was working on the initiative to offer gays voluntary anonymous consultations with psychologists, psychotherapists and sexologists that would help them to "return to normal life and become heterosexuals, as are 95 to 99 percent of our citizens."
Of course, the claim that gays can change their sexual orientation and become straight is completely bogus, and it's been rejected by literally every single mainstream organization of medical and mental health professionals.
Efforts to change sexual orientation aren't just ineffective, they're downright dangerous, increasing a person's risk of anxiety, depression, and even suicide. That's why the U.S. states of California and New Jersey have both passed laws banning "ex-gay" therapy from being offered to minors; Massachusetts and New York are both contemplating similar legislation.
But as we've already seen in Russia, up is down and down is up. Instead of trying to protect gay people from this dangerous form of psychological abuse, the government is trying to make it more widely available as part of its broader crusade against the basic human rights and freedoms of LGBT people.
For me, perhaps most chilling thing about this story is a question raised by blogger David Badash of the New Civil Rights Movement: if Degtyarev's barbaric proposal becomes law, how long would it be before this government-sponsored "ex-gay therapy" became not voluntary, but mandatory?