The history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people LGBT in Russia and its historical antecedents the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire has largely been influenced by the political leanings of its rulers. Medieval Catholic-Protestant Europe had the largest influence on Russian attitude towards homosexuality. Russian Homosexual propaganda wiki history was influenced by the ambivalent attitude of the Russian Orthodox religiosity regarding sexuality.
In contrast to old Europe, ancient Russia had an open Homosexual propaganda wiki towards homosexuality. Homosexuality has been documented in Russia for centuries.
The earliest documented bans on homosexuality date to the early-mid 17th century. Grigory Kotoshikhin recorded during the reign of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovichwho began the process of the Europeanization and modernization of Russia,  that male homosexuals were put to death and also states that female homosexuals are also put to death by burning.
Infurther laws were enacted criminalising certain sexual acts between two males, but an LGBT subculture developed in Russia during that century, with many significant Russians being openly homosexual or bisexual. Inthe Russian Revolution saw the "Homosexual propaganda wiki" of the Tsarist government and the subsequent foundation of the Russian SFSRthe world's first socialist statefollowed by the founding of the Soviet Union after the end of the civil war in The new Communist Party government eradicated the old laws regarding sexual relations, effectively legalising homosexual and transgender activity within Russia, although it remained illegal in other former territories of the Russian Empire.
Under Vladimir Lenin 's leadership, openly homosexual people were allowed to serve in government. Following Stalin's death, there was a liberalisation of attitudes toward sexual issues Homosexual propaganda wiki the Soviet Union, but homosexual acts remained illegal.
Nonetheless, homosexual culture became increasingly visible, particularly following the brashly liberal glasnost policy of Mikhail Gorbachev 's government in the late s. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the foundation of the Russian Federation inthe Council of Europe pressured the new administration to legalize homosexuality, leading President Boris Yeltsin to do so in However, there are several restrictions on activities related to homosexuality.
According to several reports about ancient Russia, many Western visitors from Europe were shocked or surprised how open and naturally the Russian people dealt with homosexuality. The Austrian royal councilor Homosexual propaganda wiki von Herberstein described in his report Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii Notes on Muscovite Affairs his observations during his travels in Moscow in and He noted that homosexuality was prevalent among all social classes.
Prior to Tsarist policy, homosexuality and cross-dressing were punished by religious authorities or militias. Ivan the Terrible was accused of being gay in an attempt to discredit him. When Tsar Dmitry I was overthrown, his broken body was dragged through the streets by his genitals alongside his reputed male lover. InTsar Peter the Great enacted a ban on male homosexuality in the armed forces.
The prohibition sodomy was part of a larger reform movement designed to modernize Russia and efforts to extend Homosexual propaganda wiki similar ban to the civilian population were rejected until In Tsar Nicholas I added Article which outlawed muzhelozhstvo.
While this could have created a ban on all forms of private adult voluntary homosexual behavior, the courts tended to limit its interpretation to anal "Homosexual propaganda wiki" between men, thus making private acts of oral sex between consenting men legal. The law did not explicitly address female homosexuality or cross-dressing, although both behaviors were considered Homosexual propaganda wiki be equally immoral and may have been punished under other laws similar to how the Church would punish girls for being "tomboys" as lesbians were previously punished by law in the 17th century and prior.
It is unknown how many Russians were sentenced under this law, although there were a number of openly gay and bisexual Russians during this era and homoerotic rites were popular among some religious dissidents in the far north of Russia. Author and critic Konstantin Leontiev was bisexual and one of the most famous couples in the late 19th century Russian literary world were the lesbians Anna Yevreinova a lawyer and Maria Feodorova an author.
Mikhail Kuzmin 's novel Wings became one of the first "coming out" stories to have a happy ending and his private journals provide a detailed view of a gay subculture, involving men of all classes. While there was a degree of government tolerance extended to certain gay or bisexual artists and intellectuals, especially if they were on friendly terms with the Imperial family, the pervasive public opinion, greatly influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Churchwas that homosexuality was a sign of corruption, decadence and immorality.
Leo Tolstoy 's Resurrection introduces a Russian artist, convicted for having sex with his students, but given a lenient sentence; and a Russian activist for gay rights as examples of the widespread corruption and immorality in Tsarist Russia. These depictions of gay men and women in literature suggest that the government's selective tolerance of homosexuality was not widely expressed among the Russian people and that it was also divorced from any endorsement of LGBT rights.
While other nations, most notable Germany, had an active gay rights movement during this era, the most visible example of Russian homosexuality aside from literature was prostitution. Russian urbanization had helped to ensure that Saint Petersburg and Moscow both had gay brothels, along with many public places where men would buy and sell sexual services for or from other men.
His homosexual relationships were widely famous in Moscow. Anarchist Alexander Berkman softened his prejudice against homosexuality through his relationship with Emma Goldman and his time spent Homosexual propaganda wiki jail, where he learned that working class men could be gay, thus debunking the idea that homosexuality was a sign of upper middle class or wealthy exploitation or decadence.
One of the founders of the Kadets, Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokovhad written a research paper on the legal status of homosexuality in Russia, published by early gay rights advocate Dr.