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Video experiment reveals Russia’s violent homophobia

Walking hand-in-hand through Moscow turned into a frightening experience. (Photo courtesy of ChebuRussiaTV0
Walking hand-in-hand through Moscow turned into a frightening experience. (Photo courtesy of ChebuRussiaTV)

In a “social experiment” to see whether Russian citizens behave as badly  toward gay men as their reputation suggests, a video cameraman for  ChebuRussiaTV secretly filmed two men walking through Moscow holding hands.

The result: Russian passersby went out of their way to insult and assault the pair.  “Leave Russia,” one man shouted. Twice, threatening men deliberately collided with them.

HIdden camera recorded the two men walking hand-in-hand through Moscow. (Photo courtesy of ChebuRussiaTV0
HIdden camera recorded the two men walking hand-in-hand through Moscow. (Photo courtesy of ChebuRussiaTV)

In the introduction of the video, one of the ChebuRussiaTV staffers said that, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality, “we decided to check how people in Moscow, Russia, will react to a gay couple.”  They put a hidden camera in a backpack carried by another man walking in front of the couple.

Watch the 3:30-minute video, with English subtitles, here.

The British newspaper The Independent described the video thus:

Passerby barges into the two men walking hand-in-hand through Moscow. (Photo courtesy of ChebuRussiaTV0
Passerby barges into the two men walking hand-in-hand through Moscow. (Photo courtesy of ChebuRussiaTV)

“The video shows the couple experiencing a range of unpleasant reactions from the Moscow public. Many stare, others laugh and point. One man says to his friend, ‘Look at those gays going by.’ …

“Other phrases heard include, ‘Hey gays there’s too much of you nowadays’ and ‘Leave Russia.’

“Some reactions are frightening. One man deliberately barges into one of the pair and then attempts to put the blame on him. ‘What’s your f***ing problem? Come over here you gay!’ The pair walk away, visibly upset. In a separate occasion, another man does exactly the same thing, only this time barging right in between the pair and then squaring up to one of them, not saying anything, just staring.

A pedestrian intentionally collides with the pair, then says, "'What's your f***ing problem? Come over here you gay!" (Photo courtesy of ChebuRussiaTV0
A pedestrian intentionally collides with the pair, then says, “‘What’s your f***ing problem? Come over here you gay!” (Photo courtesy of ChebuRussiaTV)

“The video emerged just days after Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party hit back against the recent successes of the gay rights movement with a new ‘straight’ flag. The banner celebrates the traditional, nuclear Russian family. The flag depicts two parents – a woman and a man – holding hands with three children.”

Homosexuality is legal in Russia, but LGBTI people are often subjected to harassment.  The nation’s notorious anti-“gay propaganda” law is often used to try to silence LGBTI rights activists.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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