‘Coming Out’ rally in St. Petersburg, Russia ends in violence

TW: violence

Saturday, October 12, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Sixty-seven people were arrested Saturday at an LGBT event in St. Petersburg, Russia, as anti-gay protesters clashed with LGBT rights advocates, a police official told LGBTQ Nation.

Dmitry Lovetsk, AP
Riot police detain gay rights activists after a scuffle with anti-gay protesters during an LGBT rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013.


Dmitry Lovetsky, AP
Riot police detain an anti-gay protester during an authorized gay rights rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013.

Dmitry Lovetsk, APAnti-gay protesters gather to prevent a gay rights activist's rally in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013.

Dmitry Lovetsk, AP
Anti-gay protesters gather to prevent a gay rights activist’s rally in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013.

The event, to mark yesterday’s National Coming Out Day, an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as LGBT, was scheduled by organizers to be held in the city’s downtown at the Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole) war memorial.

According to police, about 200 conservative and religious activists — which included Russian Orthodox church protesters and members of Russian nationalist organizations — were pre-staged in the area surrounding the Field of Mars and prevented the LGBT activists from approaching the memorial.

The clash between the two groups erupted as the anti-gay forces, singing religious songs and shouting anti-gay slurs, attempted to prevent the LGBT activists from unfurling Pride flags and posters containing LGBT-affirming slogans and messages.

Russian Riot police broke up the fighting, arresting 15 LGBT activists and 52 anti-gay protesters.

The Field of Mars is an area where demonstrations are allowed without special sanctions.

The St. Petersburg city government had sanctioned the rally despite the Russian government’s June passage of a contentious law outlawing gay “propaganda.”

While the law’s proponents argue it is aimed at protecting children, critics say the legislation is part of a much wider crackdown on Russia’s LGBT community, and claim it has led to increasing pressure and threats of violence from homophobic vigilantes.

A similar June protest in St. Petersburg resulted in 50 arrests and numerous LGBT activists being beaten by anti-gay protesters.

Russian court backs St Petersburg’s anti-gay law
3 October 2012, 2:32pm

Russia’s Supreme Court has ruled that the country’s second largest city of St Petersburg can continue to enforce its homophobic censorship law.

It equates homosexuality with “paedophilia” and was passed by the city on February 29 of this year – despite more than 270,000 people signing an online petition against the measure.

LGBT rights campaigners had challenged the law, which imposes fines of up to 5,000 rubles (£107) on individuals and up to 500,000 (£10,700) on businesses for promoting LGBT issues.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia programme director, said in May:

“St Petersburg and other Russian cities must immediately repeal such laws, which are clearly discriminatory in nature and only serve to fuel homophobia.”

Last month, Vitaly Milonov, a St Petersburg councillor and the author of the law, referred to homosexuality as a “bad habit” that can be treated by fasting and prayer on a Russian radio show.

Earlier this year, Mr Milonov gave his backing to a group of anti-gay Russian activists, who announced plans to sue Madonna for $10 million (£6.15 million) after they accused the pop star of insulting their feelings when she spoke out against the law during a concert in the city on August 9.

Yesterday, in the former Soviet state of Ukraine, lawmakers passed a draft LGBT censorship law, which proposes prison terms of up to five years for spreading gay “propaganda”.

Several MEPs have criticised Ukraine over the move, which could undermine the country’s desire to join the EU.

I’ve Only Just Begun - the short music film (by 0301489)

"I’ve Only Just Begun" is a ragingly beautiful and empowering story about Venuz Vulgar and his friends on their way to St. Petersburg, Russia.

It’s written and directed by E. Over 60 people were involved in this free, independent production. Thank you all. Big up. No fear.

73 people prosecuted in St Petersburg in first four months under ‘gay propaganda’ ban
St Petersburg Police have revealed that 73 people have been prosecuted for ‘homosexual propaganda’ since the city introduced its ban, just days after eight were arrested trying to hold a gay pride march in the city
The arrest of Nikolai Alekseyev in May

73 people have been prosecuted for violating St Petersburg’s so called ‘homosexual propaganda’ ban in the first four months that the legislation has been in place, St Petersburg police revealed on Friday.

‘73 people have been prosecuted for homosexual propaganda and one person for paedophile propaganda,’ St Petersburg Police Chief Sergei Umnov said on Friday in a statement released by St Petersburg Police.

The law was promoted by the ruling United Russia party and adopted by St Petersburg’s city assembly in February following the introduction of similar laws in the Russian administrative regions of Ryazan and Arkhangelsk in 2006 and 2011.

The St Petersburg law punishes ‘homosexual propaganda’ in public alongside paedophile propaganda with fines of up to $15,600, and is designed to protect children from positive messages about LGBT people.

St Petersburg Police did not reveal what the individuals had done to break the law or what fines were issued.

However eight would have been the activists arrested when they tried to ignore the city’s ban on gay pride marches on July 7, and another would be Nikolai Alekseyev who was arrested in May for holding up a banner quoting a Soviet actress which read, ‘homosexuality is not a perversity, perverse is hockey on grass and ballet on ice.’

The US State Department issued a statement condemning the bill after its first reading in November last year.

‘We are deeply concerned by proposed local legislation in Russia that would severely restrict freedoms of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and indeed all Russians,’ the statement read.

However the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed US criticism on the issue as ‘inappropriate.’

Russia legalized homosexuality in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union but only ceased to class it as a mental disorder in 1999, and homophobic attitudes are still widespread, with around 70 percent of Russians believing it to be immoral.

(via Russian Laws Keep Gay Life Behind Closed Doors)

Published July 16, 2012

Russian Laws Keep Gay Life Behind Closed Doors

St. Petersburg is often seen as Russia’s most liberal city, but it may be leading a conservative movement against public displays of gay life in Russia. VOA’s James Brooke reports from Moscow.

LGBT Rally Approved by St. Petersburg Authorities


LGBT Rally Approved by St. Petersburg Authorities
20:40 04/07/2012
ST. PETERSBURG, July 4 (RIA Novosti)
St. Petersburg authorities have approved for the first time an event in support of civil rights for Russia’s gay and transsexual community, an organizer said on Wednesday.

According to Yuri Gavrikov, the St. Petersburg City Hall has authorized an LGBT protest march and a rally on July 7 at the Polyustrovo Park away from the city center. No more than a 1,000 protesters can participate in the event.

“The goal of the action is to attract the attention of the public and the authorities to violations of civil rights of LGBT community and to the need to pass legislation prohibiting discrimination over sexual orientation,” the application for the event submitted to St. Petersburg authorities says.

St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly passed the law penalizing “the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors” in late February. It came into effect on March 11.

The so-called Gay Propaganda law imposes fines of up to $16,000 on individuals and up to $160,000 on legal entities for the promotion of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender practices among minors.

It follows similar bans in the southern Astrakhan and central Ryazan and Kostroma regions in Russia.

The new legislation outlaws Gay Pride events.

The law has caused a divided reaction among Russians, where anti-gay sentiment remains strong. Russian LGBT groups have requested support in the West against the law that made the “promotion of homosexuality” an administrative offense.

The influential Russian Orthodox Church has backed the law.

Canada tells gay travelers to avoid St. Petersburg

Canada  has advised gay and lesbian travellers visiting St. Petersburg, Russia to take extra precaution in the wake of a new law in the city banning “homosexual propaganda.”

The star reports:

Canada is warning gay and lesbian travellers bound for Russia’s historic St. Petersburg to be wary after the city enacted a new law banning what it calls homosexual propaganda.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told the House of Commons he is deeply concerned by the legislation, which he says runs counter to core Canadian values of freedom of speech, human rights and the rule of law.

The warning comes after the governor of St. Petersburg signed a law that makes it a criminal offence to publicize acts of sodomy, bisexualism or lesbianism.

The city says the law, which comes into effect Saturday, is designed to protect children.

But gay rights groups see it as part of a backlash led by some politicians and the Russian Orthodox Church.

St Petersburg governor signs gay hate law
Georgiy Poltavchenko signs law against gay ‘propaganda to minors’ despite international pressure – now four Russian regions have similar laws
Georgiy Poltavchenko (left) with Russias newly re-elected president Vladimir Putin. The St Petersburg governor has signed the anti-gay law.

The governor of St Petersburg in Russia has signed a bill into law which is designed to gag the local gay and transgender population.

The law officially prevents the ‘propaganda of homosexuality to minors’ but campaigners warn it will be used to gag any public discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues or events targeted at gay and trans people.

The St Petersburg bill has fines of up to 1 million roubles ($34,400 €25,000) for organizations and up to 5,000 roubles (€172 €125) for individuals.

The bill, introduced by the local Duma, was roundly condemned by Europe, the US State Department, human rights organizations and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campaigners and individuals as well as their straight allies.

Protests were held outside Russian embassies in cities including Berlin, Buenos Aires, Milan, Antwerp, Lisbon, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

After it passed through the Duma on 29 March, governor Georgiy Poltavchenko had 14 days to sign it or send it back to them.

In a final insult to international opinion, it now appears Georgiy Poltavchenko signed the bill on 7 March, the same day that a delegation from St Petersburg’s twin city of Manchester, northern England, visited him and begged him to veto it.

The news has only emerged today via his press office as it’s the first working day since an official holiday which started on 8 March.

Once signed the legislation comes into force after 10 days, so on 17 March.

A similar law in the Kostroma region or Russia came into force already at the end of February.

There are now laws in four Russian regions which ‘ban propaganda of homosexuality to minors’. Together they cover 5.5% of the country’s population.

The Ryazan legislation was introduced in 2006 and has been challenged by GayRussia.eu at the European Court of Human Rights in a case that is not yet open and at the UN Human Rights Committee, where a decision is expected this July. Russian Constitutional Court, meanwhile, judged this law constitutional.

The 2011 Arkhangelsk legislation, also challenged by the same activist group, is expected to reach the European Court in two months. They are also planning to launch a legal campaign against the Kostroma and St Petersburg laws soon.

Russia: Don’t Go There. We Will Not Be Silenced - AllOut.org (by AllOutorg)

Perfect music choice, Tchaikovsky, perhaps Russia’s most famous composer. Oh, and he was gay, too.


Feb 29, 2012: Lawmakers in Russia just passed a draconian censorship law that would impose stiff fines for anything construed as “the promotion of homosexuality” in Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city. Reading, writing, speaking or reporting on anything related to gay, lesbian bi or trans (LGBT) people would become a criminal act. This ban on “promotion” would also target Pride parades, literature, theater, or NGOs that openly serve LGBT people.

All Out, a community of almost a million people around the world fighting for full equality, made a little video to send the Governor a message. Pass this law - We Won’t Go There.

FRANÇAIS : http://www.allout.org/fr/stpetersburg-dont-go
ESPAÑOL : http://www.allout.org/es/stpetersburg-dont-go
PORTUGUÊS : http://www.allout.org/pt/stpetersburg-dont-go

St. Petersburg Bans ‘Homosexual, Pedophile Propaganda’


St. Petersburgs Legislative Assembly passed on Wednesday a law penalizing the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors.
13:54 29/02/2012
ST. PETERSBURG, February 29 (RIA Novosti)

St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly passed on Wednesday a law penalizing the dissemination of material promoting homosexuality and pedophilia among minors.

The law, passed in the third and final reading, imposes fines of up to $16,000 on individuals and up to $160,000 on legal entities for the promotion of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender practices among minors.

Twenty-nine of 50 legislators voted for the law with five against and one abstention.

It follows similar bans in the southern Astrakhan and central Ryazan and Kostroma regions in Russia.

The new legislation effectively outlaws any Gay Pride events.

The St. Petersburg LGBT group Coming Out said the bill was “homophobic” and aimed at diverting public attention from Russia’s “real political and social problems.”

Homosexuality was illegal in the Soviet Union and was only decriminalized by the late President Boris Yeltsin in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment is still widespread.

Gay activists organize ban on St. Petersburg
A new proposed bill targeting homosexuals has produced an outcry in the international community, but looks set to pass nevertheless.
Gay activists organize ban on St. Petersburg
A new bill introduced by St Petersburg’s authorities is expected to prevent homosexuals from “promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bi-sexuality and transgenderism to minors.” Source: ITAR-TASS

The tourist industry of St. Petersburg – Russia’s second-largest city and one of its most popular destinations – may suffer because of a new bill against homosexuals, which local lawmakers are preparing to adopt amid protests.

In an international campaign launched online this week, foreign tourists are urged to inform St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko that they would boycott the city if the local parliament passes a bill against “promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bi-sexuality and transgenderism to minors.”

“If this bill is signed in to law, I will not and cannot travel to St. Petersburg, and will urge all of my friends and acquaintances to follow suit,” reads a petition launched by AllOut.org, a leading LGBT digital direct action organization.

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