Tag Archives: International Day for Tolerance

Russia: A Bill to Silence Millions (petition) / LGBT Activists Crash NGO Forum in Petersburg

www.allout.org/en/actions/russia_silenced

Russia: a bill to silence millions

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Russian LGBT activists are detained for the simple act of publicly demanding their rights.

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GOAL: 75,000
57,608 people support this campaign. Help us get to 75,000.

Political leaders in St. Petersburg are about to vote on law that will make it illegal for any person to write a book, publish an article or speak in public about being gay, lesbian or transgender. The ruling party led by President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin could make millions of people invisible with the stroke of a pen. Human rights defenders around the country are doing everything they can to stop it. They are risking their freedom to organize flashmobs and protests, but they are afraid that it won’t be enough. Right now, the world needs to speak up and tell Russian authorities to drop the bill. Join this call to leaders around the world to reach out to their counterparts in the Russian government – and ask them to reject this discriminatory and anti-democratic law.

TO WORLD LEADERS:

The party led by Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin is pushing discriminatory legislation against lesbian, bi, gay and trans people that could eliminate their freedom to speak publicly and assemble. Russia is a signatory to numerous international human rights treaties – including the European Convention on Human Rights. We call on you to urgently speak out and hold Russia accountable to its treaty obligations – and stand with LGBT Russians whose ability to speak for themselves is under attack.

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Sign the petition here.

You can see Sergey Chernov’s photo reportage of Sunday’s flash mob against the proposed law on Palace Square here.

On November 16, the International Day for Tolerance, Petersburg LGBT activists and their supporters picketed the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly.

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Echo Moscow in St. Petersburg · November 20, 2011

Gay activists seized the podium of an international forum to be heard

On November 19, as part of Finland’s presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, a forum for NGOs from Northern Europe and Russia opened in Saint Petersburg.

Among the announced priority topics of the forum were equality, tolerance and gender equality.

Representatives of the State Duma, the Government of Saint Petersburg, and the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg (Vatanyar Yagya) spoke at length about how Saint Petersburg is a progressive city, and the protection of human rights is an extremely important task for the governments of Russia and Petersburg.

While one of the scheduled speakers lingered on his way to the podium, LGBT activists from the Russian LGBT Network, Coming Out, and the Side by Side Film Festival took the floor.

Igor Kochetkov’s speech was brief: during the minute and a half that he was able to to hold onto the microphone, Kochetkov managed to report on the homophobic bill [now under consideration in the Petersburg Legislative Assembly], gross human rights violations in Saint Petersburg and Russia, and the lack of reaction on the part of officials to complaints by citizens and organizations. He urged the forum to draft a resolution on this issue, and the forum’s international participants to inform their governments about the despotism of the Russian authorities.

During Igor Kochetkov’s speech, the activists, who had made their way into the hall in advance under the guise of forum participants and had nearly been put to sleep by the lovely speeches of the Russian bureaucrats, unfurled banners (“Tolerance is for society, not only for international forums!” Russia! Respect Gay and Lesbian Human Rights,” “Let’s Stop the Homophobic Law Together!” “Deputies! Respect the Russian Federation Constitution”) and handed out leaflets.

Officials and representatives of Russian and foreign NGOs listened to the speech in total silence; some applauded. At the exit of the conference room, as they hurried to leave the premises, the activists were met by a security guard who escorted them to the front door of the hotel.

An activist with a video camera who remained in the hall managed to record the following speech, by the Russian Presidential Plenipotentiary in the Northwest Federal District, which was full of sparkling humor. He said that the applause after the appearance by the activists was actually applause for Russia’s democracy, and that garden homes were the pillar of the strong Russian family.

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LGBT Demo in Petersburg Attacked by Orthodox Wackos

PROTESTERS THROW EGGS AT GAY RIGHTS DEMONSTRATORS
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times

Protesters holding Orthodox Christian church banners and icons, singing prayers and throwing eggs helped to bring the city’s first authorized lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) demo to an abrupt end in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

According to organizer Maria Yefremenkova, around 20 counter-demonstrators were already at the site of the planned demo when around 10 LGBT activists arrived.

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“They stood there and sang the Lord’s Prayer and some psalms, but the main problem was a bunch of highly aggressive middle-aged men, who were indignant that the police were not dispersing us, but protecting us,” she said.

“They shouted insults and threats throughout the event.”

Later on, a group of 40 men approached the demo, stopped 20 meters away from it and began throwing eggs at the participants, despite the police presence. According to Yefremenkova, the officers looked at a loss for a while, but then detained some of the attackers.

With the police distracted, the men standing near the demo rushed at protesters, seizing a rainbow flag and banners, tearing down a stand and starting to trample it, she said.

The police said 10 were detained and charged with “disorderly conduct.”

Yefremenkova said that activists recognized some of the attackers as belonging to nationalist organizations such as the Russian Imperial Union Order and People’s Council (Narodny Sobor).

According to Yefremenkova, the demo was stopped 40 minutes after it had begun, when a representative of the district administration approached the organizers and asked them to discontinue the event for security reasons.

“It was even said that if we didn’t stop it ourselves, they would stop the event because the security of participants was under threat,” she said.

“They offered to transport us in their bus, which was perfect for us, because we hadn’t thought about how we would leave the scene. The protesters were telling us, ‘You’ll have to go home eventually,’ and making other such threats.”

The demo was timed to mark the United Nations’ International Day for Tolerance, observed on Nov. 16.

Yefremenkova said that the activists had prepared a performance portraying the history of their relationship with bureaucrats, Orthodox believers and judges, but had no chance to perform it.

“They are three sources of homophobia, we believe,” she said.

According to Yefremenkova, the police failed to fully protect the activists. “Considering the nature of the event, they should have surrounded us and acted more decisively in regard to the provocateurs,” she said.

City Hall and local district administrations had repeatedly refused to sanction any LGBT rights rallies until this month. Each of the nine locations proposed for a gay pride event in June was rejected by the authorities on various grounds that the activists described as “derisive.” Five activists were detained when 19 protesters tried to hold a demo without a sanction.

According to Yefremenkova, the Moskovsky district administration refused to authorize a small rally as late as last month.

Last month, a St. Petersburg court ruled that City Hall’s ban of June’s gay pride event was illegal, while the European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia to pay damages to a gay rights activist for unlawful discrimination by the Moscow authorities, who repeatedly denied him and other activists the right to hold gay pride marches.

Yefremenkova said that in authorizing Saturday’s event, the authorities may have been influenced by the court rulings and the rally’s theme of tolerance. “We do have a tolerance program in St. Petersburg, even if the issue of homophobia is not featured in it in any way,” Yefremenkova said.

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