Apple CEO Tim Cook should be banned from entering Russia because he could bring AIDS or Ebola into the region, declares a St. Petersburg lawmaker as the Kremlin's anti-gay propaganda law continues to resound through the country.
For more than a year now, Russia has enforced an anti-gay propaganda law that functions under the pretense of protecting minors from "nontraditional sexual relations." Essentially, any expression seen as supporting LGBTs is punishable by fines and even incarceration in some cases.
Cook recently penned a highly personal letter, revealing he's gay and expressing hope his coming out would help others fearing discrimination and homophobia. Cook's revelations have been met with just the sort of vitriol that likely played a part in him waiting so long to confirm what has long been suspected.
Vitaly Milonov, of the United Russia party who holds office in St. Petersburg's legislative assembly, calls Cook a slick politician, along with a derogatory term relating to gays and lesbians. The Apple CEO admitted to being gay only after proving he could be successful as leader of Apple in the post-Jobs era, Milonov says.
"He's like an artist, who at first popularized himself and then revealed himself to be gay," says Milonov.
Though Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was straight, a St. Petersburg memorial for the deceased innovator was toppled when his successor admitted to being gay.
The statue is said to have been erected in January 2013 by a collection of companies called ZEFS, but that same group has now taken it down. A ZEFS representative defended the removal of the memorial by stating that young school kids and scholars pass through the area each day.
"After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for sodomy, the monument was taken down to abide to the Russian federal law protecting children from information promoting denial of traditional family values," states the ZEFS representative. While Russia last year banned the "promotion of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors, it stopped short of making homosexuality illegal in the country.
It's still too early to determine if Apple's sales in Russia have fallen due to Cook opening up about his sexual orientation, but Milonov wants the Apple CEO banned from entering Russia.
"What could he bring us? The Ebola virus, AIDS, gonorrhea? They all have unseemly ties over there, prohibit their [homosexuals'] entry forever," says Milonov.
Konstantin Yablotsky, a high school teacher in Moscow, puts in perspective life under Russia's anti-gay propaganda law. Yablotsky, who heads up Russia's LGBT Sports Federation, explains what would happen if he held hands with his husband in the school.
"I won't be fired because I'm out and gay and promoting nontraditional family values at school," said Yablotsky. "Then there would be a court case. All the authorities like to say at international high-level meetings that there is no discrimination in Russia. So it would be on disciplinary stuff: if I forget my lesson plan or I'm five minutes late to class."