- May 29, 2014
Post submitted by Yushuang Sun, HRC Global Engagement Intern
Moscow’s largest gay club, Central Station, is reopening in a new location. The Club faced a series of homophobic attacks earlier this year and subsequently shut down in March. The decision to close the club came after CEO Andrei Lishchinsky resigned due to frustration when the Moscow Police refused to investigate any of the attacks and none of his 30 complaints had received a response.
The club announced its return on the website with a statement that read, “The concept of the previous Central Station is not lost and is even more clearly embodied in the new project. The goal is to give everyone what they want.” While the harsh condition for LGBT individuals in Russia is marred by the legislation, the return of the Central Station shows a positive sign for the LGBT communities.
Central Station had suffered from violent attacks during the six months leading up to its closure. According to a report by Queer Russia, on the night of Nov. 16, 2013, two men fired a round of bullets at the building when the guard refused to let them into the club. A week after this incident, Central Station was subject to another attack when unknown assailants released harmful gas into the club. In December 2013, a mob of 100 people worked to dismantle the roof and stole some of the club’s equipment when the club. “These actions were obviously motivated by hatred toward representatives of the LGBT community and had a clear extremist tone,” as Lishchinsky wrote in a letter to President Vladimir Putin.
These strings of homophobic attacks add fuel to claims that violence and other harassment in Russia have increased in the wake of the passage of a number of discriminatory anti-LGBT legislation last year, including the “gay propaganda law” that came into effect after President Putin signed it in June 2013. The bill stigmatizes the Russia’s LGBT communities and imposes hefty fines for distributing information about homosexuality to children or organizing pride rallies. Russia legalized same-sex sexual activity in 1993, but homophobic sentiment still prevails. The widespread hostility to homosexuality restricts Russia’s LGBT individuals from enjoying their universal rights and freedom.