Sexuality and sexual beliefs have affected the Russians ever since the Russian Revolution. Prior to the Russian Revolution, civil unions, although technically not legal, were upheld due to the moral constraints of the time period. When the Bolsheviks, and later the Stalinists came to power, the breakdown of the nuclear family began. The Bolsheviks were especially lenient with extramarital affairs-especially when the coupling led to children being born. Both the Bolsheviks and the Stalinists believed in the perpetuation of the Russian people at any cost.
In the period between 1917 and 1953, women were given many freedoms including the right to their own surname along with free medical care and daycare. This was seen as progressive to the outside world and furthered the cause of the worker’s state. However, this social experiment did not work, and orphan children flooded the cities. Abortion rates were up, and people freely engaged in marital and extra marital sexual trysts. In 1934, the government issued decrees which would make Russia sexually conservative. Homosexuality was outlawed in 1934 and abortion in 1935. With regards to homosexuality, the Russians and most of Western civilization at the time, viewed homosexuality as a mental illness. In 1936 stricter laws were enacted to dissuade divorce and there was an emphasis placed on more censorship of works of art. The government continued to enact family laws that penalized unmarried women as well as women who would not bear children.
Since the unmarried male would raise suspicions about his homosexuality, marriage or cohabitation between men and women became the norm. With the advent of Glasnost, the sexual repression came to an end and the gates to the Western world opened with an influx of previously censored art, music, clothing, and lifestyle choices.