Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky has iconic status in Russia. A number of his compositions are associated with unrequited love - Eugene Onegin being a notable example. But despite his importance, it seems that Russians under the age of 18 will not be able to learn the full truth about one of their national heroes. Because about two weeks ago Russia's parliament approved a law that, in effect, bans the dissemination of information to young people about non-traditional relationships. And it just so happens that Russia's most famous composer did have "non-traditional" relationships - as well as a "traditional" marriage which, by the way, ended in disaster. Now I doubt any Russian bloggers would still be allowed to be this explicit, but the truth is that Tchaikovsky was gay.

Britain, too, has its share of heroes. In fact one such, Alan Turing, was born exactly 101 years ago today. Turing was a key figure in the development of computers. But last year, Turing's centenary year, passed without his name even being mentioned on BBC children's TV. Very odd, especially when you consider how much time Newsround has devoted to covering stories about Steve Jobs, computers and gadgets. Perhaps CBBC bosses wanted to avoid celebrating Turing because, as with Tchaikovsky, he was gay. Prejudice against LGBT people would also explain why Newsround has never specifically reported on the problem of homophobia and homophobic bullying.

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