The plight of homosexuals in Russia is getting worse under Vladimir Putin. Gays and lesbians had their own Spring movement after the fall of the Soviet Union — coming out of the closet after decades of repression. Then came Putin and his alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin’s government quickly used gays and lesbians as targets of political attacks. Those political attacks have now turned to actual attacks as thugs raid gay bars and clubs — beating down both men and women while the police do nothing. The recent legislation banning “gay propaganda” (and a ban on parades for 100 years in Moscow) has triggered the increase in attacks as homophobes see official support for their violent campaigns.
Alyona Korolyova, 47, watched helplessly as her girlfriend was kicked in the head as part of an organized attack by masked men.
The attack came during a celebration of the internationally observed National Coming Out Day. The men clearly had prepared for the attack and the police did not intervene. She reported that “At around 9.30pm, a group of masked men ran by me, yelled: ‘This fight has been ordered’ and began overturning tables, throwing chairs and beating whomever fell under their hands.”
Eight Russian regions have banned “homosexual propaganda” in the past year – Arkhangelsk, Ryazan, Kostroma, Magadan, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar, Bashkortostan and St Petersburg. A national ban is now being prepared in the Duma.
It is all part of the regression of Russia under the authoritarian image of Putin.
The Russian Supreme Court vote to uphold the ban on “gay propaganda” in its review of the Arkhangelsk region’s ban. However, it ruled that gay pride parades and other demonstrations in support of gay rights are legal while banning direct appeals to children.
Gay and lesbians Russians have shown considerable courage in refusing to return to the closet and passivity. They continue to push for full rights, particularly free speech rights.