Video: The human cost of Russia’s anti-gay campaign

Introductory slide for Anastasia Smirnova (Photo courtesy of The Daily Beast)
Introductory slide for Anastasia Smirnova (Photo courtesy of The Daily Beast)

Russia’s “concerted, government-run anti-gay propaganda campaign” is the focus of this week’s video in the “Quorum” series of 11 discussions of international LGBTI issues.

In the latest Daily Beast video, activist Anastasia Smirnova, who was arrested in Russia for posting an LGBT banner at the Sochi Olympics, talks with Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen.  Although Smirnova had to flee from Russia, she is working abroad with International LGBT Association (ILGA) to combat Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-LGBT campaign. Some excerpts from the video:


“There is a concerted, government-run anti-gay propaganda campaign that is resulting in ever-brewing anti-LGBTQ violence that has cost people their lives, has cost people their homes, that people are afraid is going to cost them their children, and for all of those reasons people are either going underground or leaving the country.”

Anastasia Smirnova (Photo courtesy of The Daily Beast)
Anastasia Smirnova (Photo courtesy of The Daily Beast)

Smirnova described the disruption of a plan during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 to hang a banner in St. Petersburg displaying Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter (“the practice of sport is a human right” which every individual must be able to practice “without discrimination of any kind.”):

“We were surrounded by five police cars, maybe even more. And it was not just police. Different law enforcement agencies were there, like Center for Extremism Prevention, the prosecutor’s office, like I said several police cars, and we were detained even before our action had started.”

Smirnova is currently working with ILGA Europe to support LGBTI activists in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and other countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The Smirnova video is the fifth of 11 discussions of international LGBTI issues that overall are designed to “reverse the megaphone,” allowing activists from abroad to tell Western viewers about the challenges that LGBTI people face worldwide. The videos were recorded at a December 2014 meeting in New York.

The series, under its full title “Quorum: Global LGBT voices,” is presented by The Daily Beast. The Erasing 76 Crimes blog, as a member of the advisory board for the project, helped The Daily Beast select Quorum speakers.

The video is on the Quorum page and on YouTube.

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, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at

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