Meanwhile, in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, homophobes are queuing up to wipe their feet on an LGBT+ Pride flag

Russian straphangers took time out of their busy schedules to briefly queue up and wipe their feet on an LGBT+ Pride Flag. Classy. (Screen capture via Twitter)

Without the fear of when their next hair cut will be, a strange gaggle of balding men, many wearing sagging jeans and ill-fitting jackets marched along in Moscow, Russia, and wiped their feet and kicked an LGBT+ pride flag lithely lying outside the US embassy.

Footage of the men queuing up as they pummeled the pavement of Bolshoy Devyatinsky Lane on June 30 came just days before Russian president Vladimir Putin dealt a pathetic potshot at the embassy for defiantly flying the flag.

Putin, having secured his desired result of plebiscite keeping him in power until at least 2036, lit into US diplomats for raising the flag even as US president Donald Trump ordered embassies not to do so.

As people kick a Pride flag in Russia, Putin passed a series of constitutional amendments that will further alienate the LGBT+ community.

Foot traffic seemed high outside the US embassy, nestled in the city’s Arbat district, as commuters and shoppers, all men, all not wearing face masks, many bald, purposefully walked towards the flag to blooter it. Digging their heels into the flag, staining it with dirt.

Putin tried to hamstring the flag being flown by implying that US embassy employees in Moscow must be secretly queer before calling on people to “grow up [and] become adults” over the issue. Kremlin staffers previously described the flag “propaganda of non-traditional sexual minorities”.

The footage, Twitter followers said, captured the impunity felt by many Russian citizens feel in openly expressing their anti-LGBT+ views as religious leaders dial-up their homophobic comments or officials threaten increasingly harsh rollbacks of rights.

After all, activists say, one of the central planks of Putin’s nationalist election campaign was the prohibition of homosexuality in 2013, codifying into law decades of discrimination, persecution and worse that queer people have faced.

Lawmakers at the State Duma, the lower hour of Parliament, voted 388-1 for the bill that silenced the nation. Putin’s Russia, one of centralising Christian values as the government draws closer to the Russian Orthodox Church, has seen educational institutions monitor students’ sexuality and activists be arrested for spreading “gay propaganda”.

It’s a Russia that the majority of the public appear to back, according to a recent referendum on a proposed packaged of constitutional changes that included an amendment that lists “defence of the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman” as a Russian value.

Given that lawmakers long-ago stonewalled same-sex weddings and adoptions, the move was largely symbolic but demonstrates the lengths Putin’s administration is willing to go to wire homophobia into law and ward off attempts by activists to hem Putin’s powers.