Russian LGBTI supporters march — with help from police

Despite its reputation for anti-gay fervor, Russia is home to many supporters of LGBTI people and many advocates for LGBTI people’s human rights. Hundreds of them marched through St. Petersburg on May 1, as Queer Russia reported:

LGBT rights marchers in the May Day parade in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo courtesy of Vmeste Coalition and Queerussia.info)
LGBT rights marchers in the May Day parade in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo courtesy of Vmeste Coalition and Queerussia.info)

 

Rainbow May Day in St. Petersburg draws hundreds of LGBTs and allies despite threats and curses.

This pink tank was prepared for use in the May Day parade. (Photo courtesy of Vmeste Coalition and Queerussia.info)
This pink tank was prepared for use in the May Day parade. (Photo courtesy of Vmeste Coalition and Queerussia.info)

On May 1, the Rainbow May Day march was held in St. Petersburg for the fifth year in a row, drawing hundreds of participants and guarded by the local police. The rainbow column was a part of a bigger Democratic March bringing together a number of trade unions, political and social movements to celebrate the International Workers’ Day.

The march was held in the centre of St. Petersburg, on Nevsky Prospect. Media reported the total number of participants at over 90,000 with the LGBT column itself consisting of around 600 people.

Slogans and plackards of the LGBT column included such statements as “No to discrimination on gender and sexual orientation,” “Dump homophobia,” “I love, not war,” “Milonov, thanks for promotion,” “Milonov go to Uganda for homopropaganda,” “Sexism is so last century.” [Editor’s note: Local legislator Vitaly Milonov is a prominent opponent of LGBTI rights.]

There was also supposed to be a big bright foam plastic pink tank with flowers inside its trunk to be carried along the procession, but police did not allow activists to do so due to technical problems in proper inspection.

Police restrained anti-gay protester/legislator Vitaly Milonov. (Photo courtesy of Vmeste Coalition and Queerussia.info)
Police restrained anti-gay protester/legislator Vitaly Milonov. (Photo courtesy of Vmeste Coalition and Queerussia.info)

Vocal opponent of LGBT equality, local Legislative Assembly MP Vitaly Milonov, United Russia party member, along with his very few supporters, tried to disrupt the march shouting out offensive and rude remarks at participants. For example, Milonov asked police to give him permission to “tear head off” of one of the participants. He shouted: “Arrest them! Go away! Pedophiles! Prostitutes! Faggots! I am Russian! We will liquidate you! They should be squashed with tanks and tractors!” and so on.

Milonov unsuccessfully tried to convince policemen that rainbow flags violate the “gay propaganda ban law” because he brought his children along with him and they saw the flags that in his opinion promoted homosexuality to them. Nevertheless, policemen boldly refused to take any action on that claim and prevented Milonov’s disruptions.

The march was organized by the Vmeste (Together) Coalition for Civil Equality.

For many more photos and/or to support Queer Russia, see the Queerussia.info blog.

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 [email protected]

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