Monday, 28 November 2011

St. Petersburg: How you can help fight anti-gay laws in Russia?

Image of St. Petersberg gay demo, broken up by police and attacked by fascists, source GayRussia
Source: LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru

Many of you have been asking us how you can help to fight the bill in the most effective way. This Press Release aims to answer your questions as well as bring more insight about the context.

In the last few days, GayRussia has been consulting with its activists, other Russian based LGBT activist groups and legal specialists to think of how to best address the current circumstances.

First, you need to know that the bill is politically motivated: Russia’s Parliamentary election will take place on December 4th and targeting LGBT is a way to earn support from religious and nationalist organizations. The bill received support from Valentina Matvienko the former Governor of the city who is now the speaker of the Upper Chamber of Parliament. Politicians in Moscow said that they are ready to implement a similar law in the Russian capital but also at the Federal level.

Second, we want to stress that the ban of the promotion of LGBT rights on the public place is de facto enforced in Russia since 2005. Implementing this law is only materializing what has been a sad reality for years. For several years, GayRussia has been denouncing the absence of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association for Russian LGBT. As a reminder, over 300 public events applied by GayRussia have been banned, LGBT groups partnering with us have been denied registration by the government in several regions, our activists have been often fined, arrested, judged and humiliated. They introduced 20 cases with the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. Russian prosecution refused to open criminal investigation against Mufti Talgat Tadjudin, the Governor of Tambov, Oleg Betin, and the former Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, for calling hatred or to kill LGBT people. The Russian Courts even legalized the insult “gomik” (faggot) which was used by Yuri Luzhkov while referring to gays.

Third, we see this law as a "unique" chance for the Russian LGBT community to re-mobilize itself as it did in 2002 upon the attempt to re-criminalize homosexuality and in 2006, on the eve of the first Moscow Gay Pride.

Russia’s LGBT community has historically been divided and GayRussia would like to hope that today’s attacks by politicians in St. Petersburg will serve as a lesson for LGBT groups in St. Petersburg who have been appearing in the media since 2005 arguing that both “gay prides” and “gay marriage” are provocations.

This anti-LGBT law is a chance for Russian LGBT people to work against homophobe politicians and government rather than to work against each other. Our enemies are homophobes: LGBT rights campaigners should not attack each other. If we stand united, we have more chance than if we stand in two opposite sides where we only fuel the anti-gay rhetoric.

Fourth, the St Petersburg law is nothing new in Russia. Similar laws have already come into force in Ryazan (in 2006) and in Arkhangelsk (in 2011). More frightening, it is being discussed in Moscow, and also in Ukraine. It was also discussed in Lithuania in the past years.

GayRussia is the only Russian LGBT group which campaigned against the anti-gay law in Ryazan in 2009 when Nikolay Baev and Irina Fedotova (Fet) were arrested, detained and judged for holding a banner in front of a local school stating that “Homosexuality is normal”. The Constitutional Court gave a decision arguing that the law did not contradict with the Constitution. The activists lodged a case with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and with the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.

These two cases are today a chance to make anti-gay laws history not only in Russia but in the whole of Europe.

The faster the European Court of Human Rights will open the case of Nikolay Bayev against Russia, the faster we will get a decision. And this decision will be binding for Russia. More important, it will make a European precedent which will serve Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, Ukraine, Lithuania and maybe more.


At this stage, your support and your mobilization should be thought to help achieving a global solution to this problem, not only in St. Petersburg but also, in Ryazan, in Arkhangelsk, in Moscow, in Ukraine and elsewhere.

By asking the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee to prioritize the case of Bayev and Fedotova, you can make a difference, globally. GayRussia propose template letters that you can print and send. An envelope, a stamp, and a piece of paper is all you need !

If 10’000 of you write a letter to these two institutions, IT CAN MAKE A CHANGE. Each of your letters will be filed in each case. The more letters are filed, the more chances we have to show the importance of these cases.

Templates of letters to send are available here:

It will then be on our side to do the job and ensure that we win the case. We assure you that our efforts to fight in Court and win the case will be tireless and unstoppable as our previous campaigns have always been. Our aim is to defeat our Constitutional Court and our homophobic government. This year, GayRussia won the first ever LGBT case in Russia in the ban of the Moscow Pride at the European Court of Human Rights.
Today "GayRussia" together with other Russian LGBT groups, "Equality St. Petersburg", "Radio Indigo", "Russian Community LGBT Grani", "Marriage Equality", "Moscow Pride Committee", "Article 282", "Pride House Sochi" are launching the campaign "10’000 letters to the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations against anti-gay laws in Russia".

The campaign which is launched under the patronage of the IDAHO Committee (France) received support from the Kaleidoscope Trust (UK), Gay Liberation Network (USA), Outrage! and Peter Tatchell Foundation (UK) and it is relayed by our longtime international media partners, Gay City News (USA), (France), (United Kingdom), (Germany), (Belarus) and will be chronicled on reporter Rex Wockner's online networks.

It kicked off with an article by Nikolai Alekseev published in the British The Guardian.

"This campaign goes beyond Russia, our aim is to put a barrier to any attempts limiting freedom of speech for LGBT people in Europe" said Nikolai Alekseev, Founder of GayRussia and Moscow Pride. 
“10’000 of you can make a change simply by buying a stamp and an envelope” added Mr Alekseev. 
"IDAHO stands united with our brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe to put an end to these anti-gay laws and we call on each of you to spend a few minutes of your time and write to the European Court and the UN to try to make a change." said Louis-Georges Tin, President of the IDAHO Committee. 
"The IDAHO Committee wrote to the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights committee asking both of these institutions to grant priority treatment to the case of Bayev and Fedotova and is calling on any LGBT organization and any individuals to do the same" added Mr Tin. 
"The Kaleidoscope Trust strongly supports this action and we are asking all our supporters to join this letter writing campaign. Politicians in all corners of the world like to attack LGBT people to win popularity. But we can take action now to demonstrate that our rights are as valid as everybody else's and these legal challenges are a vital step." said Lance Price, Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust. 
"World leaders like Putin, Obama and Medvedev pretend they support human rights, but then support the violent suppression of 'Occupy' protesters, the murders of democracy activists in Egypt, and now, the escalation of attacks on the free speech rights of LGBTs and others in Russia. It is our responsibility to forcefully denounce the hypocrisy of 'our' leaders, to directly organize against them, and to foil their plans for violence, exploitation and oppression by any means necessary." said Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network Co-founder. 
"We are very proud to support Russia's courageous, inspiring LGBT activists as they challenge these latest attacks on LGBT human rights and freedom of expression. We urge the European Union, United Nations and Council of Europe to ensure Russia's compliance with the human rights conventions it has signed and pledged to uphold." said Peter Tatchell from Outrage! in London.
What you should do in priority today:
+ Ask the European Court of Human Rights to give priority treatment in the case of “Bayev vs Russia (67667/09)”. Use the template available here: 
+ Ask the UN Human Rights Committee to give priority treatment in the case of “Fedotova vs Russia (1932/2010)”. Use the template available here:
What you can also do:
+ Ask your Minister of Foreign Affairs to raise the question of anti-gay laws with their Russian Counterparts
+ Ask Catherine Ashton, if you are a EU citizen, to remind Russia that LGBT Rights are Human Rights and that anti-gay laws are unacceptable from a trading partner of the EU
+ Ask the Council of Europe’s General Secretary to remind Russia of its obligation to strictly apply the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms that it ratified
List of contact details if you want to take any action listed above
European Court of Human Rights
By fax: +33 3 88 41 27 30
By post: European Court of Human Rights, Council of Europe, 67075 Strasbourg, France

UN Human Rights Committee
By post: Palais Wilson, 52 rue des Pâquis, CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland. 
Thorbjorn Jagland,
Council of Europe General Secretary
By email:
By phone: +32 2 584 11 11
By post: European External Action Service, 1046 Brussels, Belgium 
Catherine Ashton,
Vice president of the European Commission, High representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
By email:
By phone: +32 2 584 11 11
By post: European External Action Service, 1046 Brussels Belgium
And also keep us informed of your efforts by writing by email to : media(at) !
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