Thursday, 23 June 2011

A day in the life of homophobic Russia

Elena Kostyuchenko
By Paul Canning

Earlier today a group of brave Russians organised a small peaceful demonstration against homophobic violence in Moscow's Pushkin Square (named for the gay-friendly famous poet).

They wore pink triangles - "a sign that marked the prisoners of concentration camps, were sentenced to destruction of their homosexuality" - distributed leaflets against violence against LGBT people and held signs.

25 people were detained by police without explanation despite obeying the rules by standing at a distance of more than three meters from each other which meant they did not need authorisation from Moscow City Council. Viscous 'death to gays' anti-gay protests are routinely approved by the same authorities. Today the planned Slavic Gay Pride march in St. Petersburg was banned by city authorities.

Among those detained were activists Yasin Igor, Elena Kostyuchenko, Anna Bruce. Kostyuchenko is an openly lesbian journalist for the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was injured during the 28 May Moscow Pride protest.

The protesters said [Google translation]:
"When rapists and looters are indulgences from the church pulpit and the leniency of judges, and victims are surrounded by a conspiracy of silence, stigma of homosexuality can become fatal. The sign of pink triangle, which flash mob participants will go to Pushkin Square - a symbol of oppression. But it is - a symbol of pride and gay people who dared to be herself, in spite of rejection and persecution, despite the danger. And it is - a sign of solidarity among the protesters - many heterosexuals who support the oppressed, and ready to unite with the LGBT community in the fight for equal rights for all. In a society based on exploitation and inequality, there is only one "social group" are not discriminated against: the ruling class. Today all of us - gay."
For the International day Against Homophobia, Russian activists launched the 'Archives of Russian Homophobia' cataloging hate speech made by politicians, officials, public figures, as well as anti-gay initiatives taken by regional and federal authorities.

Among others, the database lists statements made by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov but also the ruling party United Russia, the Communist Party, the office of the General Prosecutor and the Ministry of Defense.

The protesters today listed hate crimes against LGBT:
... March 29, 2011: Artem Kalinin, one of the leaders of the LGBT movement Syktyvkar, was badly beaten in his own home ...
... 2007, Yekaterinburg. Next to a gay club "Milk" find the body of Denis N: inflicting severe beatings, the assailants of his own blood wrote his own blood on the chest of the victim the word "queer" ...
... In 2007, Vladivostok: the attack on vysheshih of gay club "Taboo," the journalist Konstantin Borovkov and his friend Dmitry Cherevko ...
Earlier we published the traumatic account of a Russian trans woman, held hostage in a Moscow brothel and raped by patrons many of which were security forces.

Also today two members of Moscow's police were arrested for extorting money from a closeted businessman.


Today's protesters said:
Most of the facts are not investigated homophobic violence: forced to hide their orientation, the victims do not go to the police. Moreover, the police, they risk being attacked again: there are cases where the police refused to accept the statement by threatening and insulting the victims.
Russian courts have consistently ignored the hate motive for the crimes against LGBT people.

As one of the most oppressed groups, we have no illusions. LGBT people in Russia are under the shadow of the threat: every homosexual, whose focus would be open, is doomed to psychological violence - and the risk of being abused physically. We have nothing to lose - and no place to retreat: no gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans can not count on adequate protection. The only solution - to unite for the fight, at least for their own lives. We want security. That's why we demand justice!
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