How America's right wing helped Russia craft its anti-gay laws

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown met with lawmakers to shape Russia's anti-gay adoption ban

Published October 4, 2013 1:17PM (EDT)

                 (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

Only days after the Russian Duma passed a law banning gay "propaganda" that severely restricts the speech and assembly of LGBTQ Russians and their allies, a coalition of prominent anti-gay activists from France and the United States gathered in Moscow for a meeting to discuss Russian laws governing adoption by same-sex couples. Among them was National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown.

As Right Wing Watch reports, Brown had previously worked closely with the anti-gay movement in France to fight the country's marriage equality legislation (their efforts ultimately failed, and marriage equality is now the law of the land in France), and was now being summoned to Moscow to help shape Russian policy around gay adoption:

According to Russian news reports, the French [anti-gay] activists and Brown attended two events in Moscow. One was a joint meeting on changes in international adoption laws with the Duma’s committee on foreign affairs and its committee on family, women and children -- whose chair, Yelena Mizulina, authored the ban on gay “propaganda” and the adoption bill.

The other event was a roundtable discussion on "Traditional Values: The Future of the European Peoples," hosted by the St. Basil the Great Foundation -- a Catholic group run by Konstantin Malofeev, the head of a private equity group and spirited anti-gay activist – and also sponsored by the Duma’s family committee, the right-wing Center for Social-Conservative Policy, and a new multi-party group of Russian MPs formed, with approval of the Russian Orthodox Church, to “protect traditional Christian values” and fight “aggressive liberalism” inreaction to Pussy Riot’s protests. Among the measures pushed by the group was the new law imposing jail time for “insulting religious feelings.”

The National Organization for Marriage did not publicly announce Brown’s participation in this international meeting of anti-gay minds. However, his presence was mentioned by Revel in a blog post about the visit, in which he noted that Brown gave a “remarkable speech in the Duma.”

In his speech to the Duma, Brown said that gay adoption should be banned because every child deserves to have "normal parents," and urged international solidarity in fighting against gay rights: "I think that this visit, the invitation to visit Russia, will enable the development of this movement around the world," he said. "We will band together, we will defend our children and their normal civil rights. Every child should have the right to have normal parents: a father and a mother."

Five days after the meeting, the Duma passed a ban on the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples and by single people living in countries that allow marriage equality.

As Right Wing Watch notes, NOM has refused to comment on Brown's participation in these meetings, but the Duma committee with which he met has kept a record of his presence (and his remarks) on its website.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Anti-gay Laws Brian Brown Homophobia National Organization For Marriage Nom Russia Vladimir Putin