Daria Kasatkina, currently ranked No. 12 in the world, has told a Russian blogger that she is in a relationship with a woman, figure skater Natalia Zabiiako. Kasatkina posted photos of the two together on social networks
following the interview.
Kasatkina has spoken out against the situation in Russia, saying she will never be able to hold hands with her girlfriend in her home country, where she is not currently based.
“This idea of someone wanting to be gay or becoming gay is ridiculous. I think there’s nothing easier in this world than being straight,” she said. “Seriously, if there was a choice, no one would choose to be gay. Why complicate your life, especially in Russia? What’s the point?”
Although same-sex relations were decriminalized in Russia in 1993, the tides have changed in recent years. In 2013, the country passed a “gay propaganda” law, which has been used to target the LGTBQ community, according to the Council for Global Equality.
ILGA-Europe, an organization working for LGBTQ rights in Europe, ranks Russia among the worst countries in Europe for LGBTQ people, ahead only of Azerbaijan and Turkey.
“Living in the closet is impossible. It’s too hard, it’s useless,” Kasatkina said. “Living at peace with yourself is the only thing that matters.”
More and more athletes around the world are choosing to come out publicly. Last year’s Tokyo Olympics featured more LGBTQ athletes – at least 186 – than any previous games.
But even with increased visibility, many LGBTQ people around the world continue to be persecuted. In the United States, state lawmakers introduced at least 162 bills targeting LGBTQ Americans in the first half of 2022 — a record year for such legislation.