Russia unveils ‘Straight Flag’ to counteract LGBT’s rainbow symbol

The Moscow branch of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party unveil a ‘Straight Flag’ to honour the nuclear family and counteract the prevalently used rainbow flag representing LGBT rights.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (JULY 8, 2015) (REUTERS) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party on Wednesday (July 8) unveiled a ‘Straight Flag’ in the capital Moscow, in a bid to counteract the rainbow flag widely used around the world a symbol of gay pride and LGBT rights.

The Moscow branch of the United Russia party announced the official introduction of the flag at the Sokolniki park where families gathered to mark the country’s annual Day of Family, Love and Fidelity.

The group claim the flag is intended to honour the nuclear family and traditional Russian values.

The flag itself comes primarily in the colours of the Russian flag and features the silhouette of a man, a woman and three children and bears the hashtag ‘RealFamily’ in Russian.

Deputy head of Moscow’s United Russia branch, Andrey Lisovenko, told Reuters TV the flag was not confrontational in any way.

“We aren’t saying (that)… there is no confrontation here. We are speaking of the traditional family, you can see there are a lot of children here, many elderly, young people, people on bicycles and rollerblades. We mean the average, standard Russian family that is ours. As you saw illustrated in the logo – mother, father and three children,” said Lisovenko.

But earlier in the day Russian media organisation Izvestia published comments by Lisovenko in which he stated that United Russia’s decision to introduce the flag was a “response to same-sex marriage, to the mockery of the concept of the family” and was a warning “against gay-fever”.

Lisovenko has also been reported in Russian media as campaigning to ban use of the rainbow flag within Russia, including online and on social media.

He said the flag was a way for Russia to display its values to the rest of the world.

“We believe that of course with today’s movement this is also a part of propaganda, and a part of the story that we are telling the society and the whole world, that these are our values, this is how we are (in real life) and this is how we live and this is how we will live on for the continuation of our lineage,” said Lisovenko.

Russia’s unveiling of the flag in support of heterosexuality comes days after the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that allows same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement. As night fell, the White House was lit in rainbow colours to mark the high court’s decision.

Young children, couples and the elderly could be seen carrying and waving the ‘Straight Flag’ on Wednesday in the park in Moscow. Many appeared content to include the flag into their celebration of the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity – a holiday introduced by Russia as the answer to St. Valentine’s Day, which is viewed by conservative Russians as an unhealthy foreign phenomenon.

Moscow resident Varvara said she was happy to mark the day with her husband and four children.

“When we were younger we would mark St. Valentine’s Day because we didn’t have our own Russian celebration, but now as you can see we support our own celebrations in full,” said Varvara, adding that the introduction of the ‘Straight Flag’ was a “good idea”.

Rights groups accuse Russian authorities of being hostile to public expressions of support for gay rights.

A 2013 law against gay “propaganda” sparked an outcry among Russian rights activists and in the West. But partly reflecting the influence of the Orthodox church, many Russians back the law or have negative feelings toward gays.