Glimmer of legal hope for LGBTs in Russia

Straight protester Daniil Grachev arrested in St. Petersburg, Russia, during pride protest. (Photo courtesy of Reuters via SDGLN.com)
Straight protester Daniil Grachev arrested in St. Petersburg, Russia, during pride protest. (Photo courtesy of Reuters via SDGLN.com)

The Russian LGBT Network reported that a regional court has decided that recent Gay Pride activities in Saint Petersburg on June 29 were legal, despite city and national laws against “gay propaganda”:

Although police claimed the gathering was “unauthorized,” on July 10 the judges in the Dzerzhinsk regional court — one of the courts dealing with more than 50 activists arrested on June 29 — rejected that claim, stating that city officials had been informed about the event in advance and had not issued a decision against it, so they could not declare it unauthorized afterwards. That meant that, legally, the arrests didn’t have “a solid basis.”

Igor Kochetkov, chairperson of the Russian LGBT Network, says that:

“With this decision, the court actually confirmed the correctness of our assessment, given earlier, of the events of the 29th of June. Instead of fulfilling their duty to protect the rights of the citizens for free assembly and restraining the aggressive behaviour of nationalists, the police dispersed the meeting, this way becoming themselves violators of law. With similar actions, the police encourages the activities of extreme right wing groups which more and more resemble the Nazi SS troops of the ’30s in the previous century.”

In the midst of the Gay Pride event, a city official had told organizers that the meeting should be terminated because they had received complaints from some citizens. Immediately after this, more than 50 activists were arrested by riot police, forced into buses and delivered to different police stations.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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