From their cover story:
As the Olympic Winter Games headed to Sochi in 2014, so did a spotlight on the violations against the Russian LGBT community. Those violations are coming directly from the top of the Russian government, with President Vladimir Putin leading the charge. His crusade against LGBT Russians and the outrage and protests his actions sparked have earned him the title of The Advocate’s 2014 “Person of the Year.”
Since winning his third term in 2012, Putin has become ever more autocratic, and his antigay ideology ever more extreme. In June 2013, he signed the infamous antigay propaganda bill that criminalizes the “distribution of information…aimed at the formation among minor of nontraditional sexual attitudes,” with nontraditional meaning anything other than heterosexual. Individual violators are fined anywhere between $120 and $150, while NGOs and corporations can incur fines as high as $30,000.
International outrage flared in the months before the Sochi Olympics, in response to which Putin reassured the gay and lesbian community they had nothing to fear as long as they left Russia’s children in peace. Such incendiary rhetoric is a staple of Putin’s political playbook. And in Russia, where the majority of media are state-owned, there’s little public pushback.
Putin continually preaches Russian nationalism and purity, telling reporters in January that anything that gets in the way of Russia’s population growth should be “cleaned up.” The message is clear: Putin’s Russia, in grand Soviet tradition, is a country of the masses, not the individual. Yet it’s the masses that must safeguard individual liberties.
Last year the magazine chose Pope Francis.