No Rainbow in Russia – Opinion Polls on Homosexuality

More than 20 years after the fall of the USSR, Russia – and the other republics, too – remain deeply averse to the public expression of homosexuality. The Russian Spectrum makes available the results of two Levada polls, from March and May of this year, in an attempt to quantify this “homophobia” over the years.

Public Opinion about Homosexuality

Basic Attitudes

In your opinion, homosexuality is primarily…?


In your opinion, how should homosexuals be treated? {Translator: Three different versions of the answers have been offered for this question over the years)

Answer set #1:

1989 1999 2008
Liquidate them 35 15 19
Isolate them from society 28 23 30
Give them psychological and other help 5 16 9
Let them be 9 29 28
Hard to say 23 18 15

Answer set #2:

2005 2010 2013
Give them psychological and other help 27 24 27
Let them be 30 25 23
Heal them 17 21 22
Isolate them from society 12 18 16
Physically destroy them 3 4 5
Hard to say 10 9 7

Answer set #3:

Prosecute them 13
Heal them 38
Help them them live better 8
Let them be 31
Hard to say 10

Do you think that consenting adults have the right to form a relationship with a member of the same sex?

Definitely yes 5
Sooner yes 18
Sooner no 25
Definitely no 35
Had to say 18

Social Aspects

Are your afraid that your children or grandchildren might become victims of homosexual propaganda?

Very 30
Quite 31
Not really 17
Not at all 11
Hard to say 12

Would you be for or against gays and lesbians having parades in Russia’s big cities?

2005 2010 2013
Definitely yes 1 1 2
Sooner yes 5 7 4
Sooner no 24 24 25
Definitely no 60 58 62
Had to say 11 10 7

Do you support legalizing gay marriage in Russia?

2010 2012 2013
Definitely yes 3 3 1
Sooner yes 11 7 4
Sooner no 30 28 23
Definitely no 54 49 62
Had to say 4 13 10

Do you think homosexuals should have the right to adopt children?

Definitely yes 2
Sooner yes 3
Sooner no 18
Definitely no 62
Hard to say 14

The Government’s Role

Do you support anti-discrimination laws and forbidding hate speech as regards homosexuals?


Do you consider that the state should suppress any public manifestations of homosexuality and its propaganda?

Certainly yes 48
Sooner yes 25
Sooner no 8
Certainly no 6
Hard to say 14

What do you think about the law proposed in the Duma banning homosexual propaganda? {Translator: Actually, propaganda of homosexuality to children}

Very positively 52
Positively 15
Negatively 6
Very negatively 8
Hard to say/don’t care 19

What do you think is the main motivator behind the passing of the ban against homosexual propaganda?

Concern over the nation’s moral state 60
Attempt to divert attention from corruption scandals and opposition activity 18
Attempt to split society, set people against each other 8
Hard to say 14

Translator’s Note

A couple of important points follow from the above observations:

(1) While it is “conventional wisdom” in the MSM that the Kremlin’s recent morality campaign is an attempt to “divert attention from corruption scandals” and “split society,” that is not the view of a majority of Russians – who, it appears, overwhelmingly support the laws against homosexual propaganda to minors (indeed, many of them think those measures aren’t nearly enough). These are observations, not moral judgments one way or the other.

(2) To the modern Western reader, especially from the younger cohorts, these views may make Russia seem to be a thoroughly barbaric and irredeemable country. Again, it is not our mission here at the TRS to either support that line of argument, refute it, or embrace the reaction. What we think is a good idea, though, is to set those numbers in a historical and international context.

The percentage of Russians favoring legalizing gay marriage – a question that has been asked in many countries – ranged from 14% in 2010, to 10% in 2012 and 5% in 2013. This is somewhat comparable to the least supportive EU countries (Romania – 11%, Latvia – 12%, Greece and Bulgaria – 15%) and not drastically lower than in Poland (17%), Hungary (18%), or Estonia (21%), as well as the least supportive US state, aka Utah. It is certainly not atypical for its neighborhood, which is pretty much entirely “homophobic” regardless of their purported level of democratic development (e.g. see the recent Georgian clashes, or the recent poll in which 95% of Ukrainians said they were against gay marriage).

Second, it should be borne in mind that the timescale during which gay marriage has moved from being an absurdity to being accepted by the majority has been incredibly rapid. In 1988, which is I suppose when pollsters first began to think of posing the question, the percentage of Americans who supported gay marriage was about 11%, i.e. about the same as in Russia today. But in the space of a single generation, it has solidified into a majority. (And a generation before 1988, it was downright illegal).

We hope that the above numbers may help move the debate from one dominated by rhetoric to something more factual and contextualized.


  1. John Lutz says:

    Good job Russia…….

  2. Russia has a clear 60% core of resistance to western style in-your-face homosexuality. In the US it is accepted that the Bible belt is very active in politics and sets most of the Republican agenda, even though it is a minority. No one calls them cattle and non-deserving-to-vote. Russia has its own “Bible belt” majority which is setting the agenda regarding this issue. Instead of spreading anti-Russian hysterics, both the west and its Russian sycophants should shut up and live with it. Nobody is proposing that Russian homosexuals should be rounded up and gassed. But parades and promotion of their lifestyle (even if they claim it is not a chosen lifestyle) is not acceptable to the Russian majority.