Masked Men Attack HIV Organization in St. Petersburg
November 4, 2013 by HRC staff
Post submitted by Tushar M, HRC Global Engagement Fellow
In yet another horrific hate crime, two individuals were seriously injured on Sunday when masked men allegedly attacked a “rainbow social” at the office of LaSky, an HIV organization working with gay men in St Petersburg. The attack came one day after LGBT activists, along with other human rights activists, took part in the 10th March Against Hatred in St. Petersburg, raising their voices against discrimination and violence on the basis of race, nationality, and sexual orientation.
Armed with a pneumatic gun and a baseball bat, two men allegedly entered the premises on the pretext of looking for a friend, before they started firing, according to reports from Fontanka. One of the victims was shot in the eye, but the prognosis doesn’t look good. LGBT activists and lawyers in St. Petersburg are working on the incident. The police arrived at the scene, and left immediately, stating they “saw no evidence of a crime,” according to the Russian LGBT Network.
State sponsored homophobia is a reality thousands of LGBT Russians face, especially in the wake of the ban on “homosexual propaganda” law that passed in the Russian parliament earlier this year. Similar incidents of hate crimes against LGBT activists and citizens attending rallies are becoming commonplace, with the police offering virtually no support or efforts to investigate these attacks or even admit that such attacks are happening. Videos of young gay men being trapped and harassed, molested, and beaten up are routinely posted on YouTube and other social media, but the police continue to insist there is “insufficient evidence of any crime.”
The Russian version of Facebook, vk.ru, has been showing an increase in violent anti-LGBT pages, some of which have been asking people to attack LaSky’s work and its office in St. Petersburg.
General Project Manager for the Interregional Social Movement Russian LGBT Network Anastasia Smirnova told The Advocate that she fears Sunday's attack showed that “pogroms are becoming a reality” targeting LGBT people. A pogrom is a violent massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group.
Today HRC launched its “Love Conquers Hate” campaign with special t-shirts displaying the message in Russian. Ricky Martin, Wentworth Miller, and Andy Cohen are among a growing number of celebrities showcasing their support for LGBT Russians. 100% net proceeds from t-shirt sales go towards supporting Russian LGBT advocates and exposing discriminatory laws. Learn more at LoveConquersHate.org.