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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Don't Lump Gays and Lesbians with Criminals

In response to "U.S. Smokers: A Smoldering Revolution," by Martin Walker (August 5).


While I appreciated Walker's satirical analysis of smokers in the United States, I was disturbed by his statements that seem to link sexual differences with criminality. Unfortunately, this sort of mindless intolerance is quite commonplace. Does Walker really believe that a lesbian parent is the same as a pedophile priest or a wife batterer?

This is not merely an academic question: What sort of violence does Walker's homophobia commit on the children of lesbian parents who read such a statement? How does a person who breaks gender rules (i.e. a transvestite) fall into the same category as someone who breaks the law? And how do little "jokes" which reproduce such sentiments contribute to whole systems which commit violence on those who desire differently?

Russian society is one such system. The law against male sodomy was only repealed last year, and the incarceration of lesbians in psychiatric hospitals continues. Very few "sexual minorities" in Russia have the social space necessary to live openly, since everything from being fired from your job to having your children taken away to being beaten by remontniki remain very real threats.

Lawrie Essig

Moscow, Russia

Ancient Hindu Sect

In response to "Foreign Sects in Russia" by Dmitry Babich (August 3).


I was shocked by the misinformation and dangerous suggestions contained in this article. It mentioned that there is a "distinct lack of religious education" in Russia, and I attribute the erroneous assumptions about the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) to this lack of information.

The group known as the "Hare Krishnas" is actually an ancient monotheistic religion within the Hindu tradition. Their philosophy is derived directly from the Vedic scriptures some of which date back as early as 3000 B.C. This pre-dates many modern religions.

From my understanding, ISKCON is involved in many welfare activities around the world. In Moscow they have opened a branch of their food distribution programs for the needy, which is a boon to society in the face of declining economic conditions.

Gabriela Sosa

Moscow, Russia

More Religous Tolerance

In response to a letter by reader Bruno De Boni "Scientology Is No Joke," August 6.


De Boni's letter says that the Scientologists are banned in Germany and that the results of Dianetics are in some generalized way harmful. Both statements are false.

I have, in my business travels, met bright, intelligent Jehovah's Witnesses in Irkutsk, charming and delightful Dianeticists in Moscow, intelligent and self-confident Scientologists in Munich, and some very pleasant Hara Krishna members in St. Petersburg.

My conclusion is that people of good will can tolerate any beliefs that assert the positive qualities of mankind.

David Bernhard

Moscow, Russia