The LGBT rights organization Coming Out helped organize a protest today in St. Petersburg, Russia, and released this account of the day’s events:
One of the Largest LGBT Demonstrations in Russia took place in St. Petersburg
Today, over 150 LGBT people and their friends and allies gathered on Marsovo Pole, the “Hyde Park” of St. Petersburg, to commemorate Vladislav Tornovoy and other victims of homophobic hate crimes, making this one of the largest public LGBT demonstration ever in Russia. LGBT activists were joined by members of civil and human rights groups, such as “Soldiers’ mothers”, “Solidarity”, Anti-Discrimination Center Memorial, Yabloko party, and others.
Around 150 counter-protesters, held at bay by police barriers, displayed photos of victims of pedophiles, shouted slurs, threw smoke pellets and small stones at the demonstrators. Among those were two radicals who are currently on trial for the attacks on LGBT activists last year. One of the counter-protester leaders was Vitaly Milonov, the author of the “propaganda” law and United Russia city parliament deputy.
After a few words by Olga Lenkova, Coming Out activist, and a minute of silence, balloons were released in the air. Demonstrators chanted slogans “No to fascism”, and “Homophobia is a shame for the city”, and displayed the main banner “Homophobia kills. Stop the hatred!”
Ten minutes into the event, instead of ensuring protection, police demanded to wrap up the demonstration, for the reason of a “real threat to the health and safety of citizens” (as indicated in the official document presented). The demonstration participants were led into buses and driven to far away metro stations under police escort.
Today’s action showed that on one hand, after the adoption of the “propaganda” law in St. Petersburg, homophobic aggressors have become bolder and better organized. On the other, despite the increasing violence and intimidation, and, at times, as a result of them, LGBT people are becoming more ready to openly speak up for their rights, and are joined by more and more heterosexual allies in their struggle – an effect opposite from what the “propaganda” law was intended to have. With support and participation of the LGBT community, we will continue to fight for the rights of everyone to feel safe in Russia, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The rally was organized in St. Petersburg by LGBT organization Coming Out in partnership with the Alliance of Straights for LGBT Equality.
Videos from the action:
More photos here:
- LGBT rally in Russia to honor victims of hate crimes (76crimes.com)
- St. Petersburg LGBT Activists To Test ‘Propaganda Law’ With Tolerance Event (rferl.org)
- LGBT marchers defy St. Petersburg anti-gay law (76crimes.com)