John M. Becker

Russian LGBTs Defy Law, Speak Out Against Bigotry

Filed By John M. Becker | April 03, 2014 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay laws, anti-gay legislation, anti-gay propaganda, Day of Silence, gay propaganda, Kremlin, Moscow, Putin, Russia, St. Petersburg, White House

week-against-homophobia-2014-russia.jpgDespite the existence of a draconian "gay propaganda" law outlawing all public expressions of support for LGBT rights, Russian LGBT activists this week are reviving an annual awareness-raising campaign they call the Week Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

According to a press release from Queer Russia, the week consists of a series of lectures, panel discussions, legal and psychological seminars, exhibitions and concerts, and public events held in major Russian cities to combat bigotry and call attention to LGBT rights violations. The theme for this year's week, which runs from March 29-April 7, is "We're Talking About Love, Not Sex."

Queer Russia reports:

Within the "Rainbow dialogue" opening event in Moscow on March, 30 everyone was be able to get acquainted with a diversity of gender and queer identities , communicate with various representatives of the LGBT community and get answers to their questions. The event was disturbed by excessive attention from police, riot squads and by searches at the hosting club. A group of homophobies was waiting outside for the event to finish, nevertheless, participants of the event were able to walk home safely.

During the Week Moscow will host the traditional "Day of Silence" flashmob, as well as a floral and sticker flashmob action.

The group writes that the Russian LGBT Network, which had coordinated things from 2008-2013, decided not to hold the week this year, writing in a statement that its "initial goals were achieved." Two other participating groups -- Moscow's Rainbow Association and St. Petersburg's "Coming Out" organization -- disagreed and chose to organize the event independently.

Under Vladimir Putin's "gay propaganda" ban, individuals and organizations who make any kind of public pro-LGBT statements face fines and possible detention.

To coincide with the campaign in Russia, LGBT Russian expats in Washington are planning their own awareness-raising action at the White House this weekend. Details are after the jump.

day-of-silence-russia.jpgOn Sunday, April 6, Russian LGBTs and their allies will gather at 3 p.m. in front of the White House for a demonstration of solidarity with the persecuted LGBT community in their home country. Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, the organization coordinating the action, writes on Facebook:

On April 6th there will be a Day of Silence for the seventh time in Russia. On this day, Russian LGBTs take a vow of silence with their mouths taped - as a symbol of the fact that they are not allowed to speak openly about the discrimination they face. They will express their silent protest against the denial of the human rights and dignity of Russian LGBTs at school, at institution, at the workplace, in society.

We, Russian-speaking LGBTs in Washington, D.C., have decided to devote the Day of Silence in 2014 to those Russian LGBTs who were silenced forever because of an ongoing campaign of harassment which began after the adoption of anti-gay laws in Russia.

We also want to recall an earlier prediction - that, once the Sochi Olympics was over, everyone would forget about Russian LGBTs. And that is exactly what happened. The focus of attention has shifted to other subjects, but the discrimination and violence being faced by Russian LGBTs has remained.

The Russian people are forced to live under an authoritarian regime whose leader - Vladimir Putin - brazenly quoted Hitler in a speech before the Russian Parliament.

We invite everyone to come with us to the White House on April 6th, where we, with our mouths taped, will express our silent protest against the denial of the human rights and dignity of Russian LGBT.

Click here for more information about Sunday's action and to RSVP on Facebook.

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