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Allowing yoga in jails could turn inmates gay, claims Russian conservative

Allowing yoga in jails could turn inmates gay, claims Russian conservative

Man doing yoga

If you allow inmates to do yoga in jail, it could turn them gay, according to a Russian conservative senator.

Yelena Mizulina is a deeply conservative Russian senator, serving in the country’s Parliament for around 20 years.

She’s virulently anti-abortion, strongly condemns homosexuality and even proposed implementing a tax on getting a divorce.

Yelena Mizulina
Yelena Mizulina. | Photo: Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation / Wikimedia Commons

Her latest remarks come about after both the Butyrka jail and a detention center for women in Moscow began trialing yoga classes for inmates last year.

When Mizulina found out about the practise, she reportedly lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor General’s Office, requiring it to launch an official investigation into what yoga does for inmates, according to newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

In her complaint, she cited the ‘expert opinion’ of orthodox theologian Aleksandr Dvorkin that yoga could ‘lead to uncontrolled fluxes of libido and consequently homosexual relationships’ among inmates.

This creation of homosexuals could then lead to outbreaks of fights with deeply homophobic inmates, escalating into a ‘protest riot’.

‘It won’t make anyone gay’

Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN, or Federalnaya Sluzhba Ispolneniya Nakazaniy) then responded to the complaint.

Deputy Head Valery Maksimenko said in an interview: ‘It won’t make anyone gay.’

He then added: ‘Our studies showed that people who practised yoga had significantly fewer health complaints. It had a very positive effect.’

‘People practice it around the world and there’s no harm in it. It won’t make anyone gay. And even if it could, it’s a free country where everyone has a right to pick a path of his or her choosing.

‘We don’t criminalize homosexuality,’ he said.

Dvorkin shot back today (8 April) and said his comments on homosexuality were out of context. He said his letter focused on the ‘incompatibility’ of unstudied practises on Christianity.

Meanwhile, Mizulina claims the newspaper who originally reported on the story is guilty of breaking ‘fake news’ laws. She reportedly plans to block the story under Russia’s new law against the dissemination of false information.

Vladmir Putin is ignoring the use of torture by Chechen authorities
Russia President Vladimir Putin, March 2018 (Photo: Kremlin.ru licensed via CC-by-4.0)

It is not illegal to be gay in Russia. However, the country currently has a ‘gay propaganda’ law, meaning the promotion of homosexuality to minors is illegal.

It has no rights for same-sex couples, no anti-discrimination laws for LGBTI people and public opinion of gay people tends to be hostile.

See also:

Europe politicians slam Russia for failing to tackle gay purge in Chechnya

Russian police raid LGBTI center and detain everyone inside

Every country in Eurovision 2019, ranked by LGBTI equality