Some 50% of gay Russians say that the West should not boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics, according to a new poll by dating website GayRomeo. They surveyed over 1,500 of their members to find out what life was like with an anti-‘homosexual propaganda’ law.

The survey revealed that less than 5% of respondents are completely out, with almost 30% having never told anyone – despite going online to meet people for sex. Others have told only friends or family.

Many comments were made about the fact that the law doesn’t distinguish between homosexuality and paedophilia: one person said, ‘In mass-media and on TV there is a lot of incorrect information. Homosexuality is characterised as paedophilia – the fight against homosexuality is explained as a fight against paedophilia – but they are absolutely different things.’

But others commented that the state sanctioned homophobia is simply a smoke screen to hide the state’s other problems such as ‘corruption, poverty, differences in salaries and absence of justice.’

Alarmingly, almost 70% of people said that the situation is going to get worse: one person admitted he’d started to think about emigration. ‘I have spent many years on education and career building,’ he said, ‘and if I leave my country I’m not sure about my future at all. But, being free is much more important.’

‘The situation for gays in Russia worsens every day,’ said one person. ‘After acceptance of the anti-LGBT law, people were up in arms against gays and often attacks began to happen. I was discharged once from office because I’m gay. I have to hide my sexual orientation from friends and family.

‘A few years ago I was attacked and beaten by a group of guys. Now on governmental TV channels many TV shows say that gays are sick people and they need to be treated, or killed at once. I’m afraid to live in Russia.’

People were evenly split as to whether a boycott of the Winter Olympics would help or harm their cause; with even those agreeing with a boycott saying they doubt it will make any difference. Others disagreed, saying the only people it hurts are the athletes themselves. The vast majority – almost three quarters of respondents – said it was important to keep up international pressure on Russia and its government.

‘Pressure from foreign countries just makes the situation worse,’ said one person, ‘because our society is aggressive to gays and to any outside influence. So, any change can only happen by itself in future generations inside Russia.’

And Alexander of Tomsk said: ‘People, please, don’t push it! Not from the outside, not from the inside. We had a good tendency towards tolerance; our society didn’t ask for gay prides. It worked against gay activists and other people. Sometimes, it’s good to keep in mind that even in politics laws of nature apply: the harder you push it, the harder it resists.’