Russian LGBT Activists Protest in St. Petersburg
September 17, 2013 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by Tushar M, HRC Global Engagement Fellow
Three months after Russia passed its anti-LGBT propaganda law, LGBT rights activists are protesting on the streets.
Kirill Kalugin, a St. Petersburg gay activist, recently protested the anti-LGBT propaganda law on Russia’s national paratroopers’ day, in front of the world famous Hermitage Museum. Photos of paratroopers manhandling Kalugin circled the globe within minutes. Equating harassment of the LGBT community by the government in Russia to bullying, Kirill accused the government of propagating the message that the LGBT community was the new “enemy,” an approach which is shockingly reminiscent of Hitler’s policies in Nazi Germany.
HRC President Chad Griffin wrote a letter to the corporate sponsors of the Olympics a few weeks ago urging them to adopt a clear public position in opposition of anti-LGBT laws like the one that passed in Russia. With Vitaly Milonov, the lawmaker who wrote the aforementioned law, stating that Russia is only trying to “preserve the natural way of living” with this law, and President Putin’s recent statements about Russia having “no laws against people with non-traditional sexual orientation” and promising that Russia will follow Olympic principles of non-discrimination, no one is completely sure of what the ground reality will be when the Olympics finally take place. Milonov has already been reported saying that Kalugin, the activist, must “die for his extremism,” and that the anti-LGBT law cannot be selectively enforced or suspended.
Kalugin warned people to not believe what President Putin and the Russian government said abroad, saying that discrimination is part and parcel of modern day Russia. “We have a big problem with human rights in Russia, and I think, as long as Putin is in power, this problem won't be solved,” he said. Obama recently met up with Russian LGBT activists following the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, and stated that he was proud of their work and that they were very “critically important to Russia’s development.”
HRC has already gathered support of around 150,000 of its members on a petition to the IOC to speak up immediately against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, and has also asked NBCUniversal to use its exclusive coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games to expose the law.
We will not sit quietly as the Russian Government charts a path that puts LGBT Russians in harm’s way. HRC will harness the energy of our members and supports, and all fair-minded Americans, to bring justice to Russia’s LGBT community. To learn more, visit www.hrc.org/Russia.