Tag Archives: Petersburg homophobic law

Russia’s Homophobic Laws Will Not Silence Side by Side LGBT Film Festival

www.bok-o-bok.ru

Russia’s Homophobic and Discriminatory Laws Will Not Silence Saint Petersburg’s Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, Which Starts October 25th and Runs through November 3, 2012

In the face of increasing discrimination and violence towards the LGBT community in Russia, organizers of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival remain defiant. Throughout the festival’s ten days, maximum visibility and openness will be sought in order to bring home to the public and the authorities the message of respect for the human rights of LGBT people in Russia.

The major theme this year is local and global processes of the LGBT movement: we will explore discourses and practices relating to LGBT politics, activism, and sexual and gender identity rights at the local and global levels. In total, 37 films will be screen, and among the countries providing the focus are Russia, Uganda, China, Cuba, Chile and South Africa, places where LGBT movements are still in their infancy and face great opposition.

The Chilean film Young & Wild, directed by Marialy Rivas, opens the festival. After the screening, Rivas will take part in a Q&A with the audience. She states: “I firmly believe Side by Side stands as a necessary voice for the diversity and visibility of the LGBT community. We need to see our stories on the screen to understand who we are and be able to deal with an aspect as profound and delicate as our own sexuality.”

A major topic of discussion this year is state-sponsored homophobia, drawing on the experiences of Uganda and Russia. Following the screening of the hard-hitting documentary and multiple award winner Call Me Kuchu, which documents the courageous efforts of David Kato and his team to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the fight for LGBT rights in Uganda, Stosh Jovan, a human rights activist from Uganda, will participate in the discussion, along with Igor Kochetkov (LGBT Network) from Russia. Also joining in the debate are Andrey Tolmachev a representative of the office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights in St. Petersburg, and Robert Bierdron, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

For the first time in its history, the festival will present a program of Russian films, “The Beginning,” compromised of new work from directors from around the country. The discussion to follow will address the issue of the visibility (or its lack) of LGBT in art and cinema. Seva Galkin, director of the short film Three Times About It, comments: “We need calm conversation. We are, after all, the same as they are. We have the same aspirations, by and large. We fall in love, think about our career, as well as dream of the sea. We are one of them.” And Svetlana Sigalaeva, director of the documentary Not With Us, says, “I learned the lesson the hard way that your country, or your house, can be a prison, if you’re a girl in love with a girl.”

Other guests include Eytan Fox (Israel), Yang Yang (China), organizer of the Beijing Queer Festival, and Michiel van Erp (Netherlands).

In cooperation with the Swedish documentary film festival Tempo, Side by Side will be screening the work of filmmakers Sara Broos (For You Naked) and Mette Aakerholm Gardell (Not a Man in Sight). Both directors will take part in Q&As following the screening.

As part of the festival, Side by Side will be launching an interactive campaign, Stop Homophobia in Russia! Details to follow.

The complete festival schedule can be viewed here.

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Petersburg “Cossacks” Force Cancellation of One-Man Show Based on Nabokov’s “Lolita”

‎”Cossacks” in Petersburg have forced the cancellation of a one-man show based on Nabokov’s novel Lolita and starring well-known local actor Leonid Mozgovoy. The show was scheduled for today (October 21) at Erarta, a contemporary art center in the city’s Vasilievsky Island district. In a threatening letter addressed to Erarta management, subsequently published by several local media outlets, the so-called Cossacks claimed that Nabokov “commits the sex act with a 12-year-old girl several times during the course of his work”; that Mozgovoy himself was “not afraid to portray Hitler as a positive character” (in Alexander Sokurov’s film Moloch); that Sokurov himself is “a well-known promoter of sodomy and a homosexualist”; and that the event’s organizer (Artyom Suslov) is “known for sodomy and anti-ecclesiastical actions, has been convicted several times, and is a drug addict.” The “Cossacks” then cited Petersburg’s newly minted “law” against the “promotion of pedophilia and homosexuality” amongst minors and hinted that the show’s organizers had already violated said law by advertising the show. According to Internet Russian-language newspaper Bumaga, these arguments were enough to persuade Mozgovoy and Suslov. Mozgovoy is quoted as saying one that one cannot argue with “scum” (bydlo), that “they tried to argue with them in 1917” (and what?); while Suslov is quoted as saying that Mozgovoy “respects their opinion” (i.e., the opinion of the “scum”) and therefore decided to cancel the show. (!) A quite unbelievable turn of events considering that, as far as we can tell, no one even knows who these “Cossacks” are. More details, including a reproduction of the threatening letter, here (in Russian):  http://paperpaper.ru/no-lolita/

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Kafka on the Neva: Petersburg Officials Charge LGBT Activists under Anti-Gay Law after First Authorizing Then Banning Gay Pride Rally

Petersburg Gay Pride Event Banned, Organizers Charged under Anti-Gay Law
By Sergey Chernov, The St. Petersburg Times

On Thursday evening, City Hall banned the Petersburg gay pride rally it had authorized on Tuesday and formally charged organizers with violating the city’s infamous anti-gay law. But organizers said they would go ahead with the rally despite the ban.

Organizers said that City Hall explained to them that it had imposed the ban because local media had reported it as a “gay pride event (parade),” rather than a “march and a stationary rally against the violations of LGBT people’s rights,” as the event was described in the application submitted to City Hall last week.

The organizers were summoned to City Hall on Thursday and informed it was “not possible” to hold the event and that they would be held legally liable if they went ahead with it.

According to St. Petersburg Gay Pride chair Yury Gavrikov, who is also chair of the local LGBT rights organization Ravnopraviye (Equality), after handing them the official rejection notice, the head of City Hall’s law and order committee Leonid Bogdanov told him and another organizer, Sergei Volkov, that a law enforcement official wanted to talk with them.

A police officer then entered the room and charged the two activists with violating the law forbidding “promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors,” Gavrikov said.

Gavrikov and Volkov were told that they since they had distributed information about the previously authorized event to the website GayRussia.ru and local newspapers Nevskoye Vremya and Metro, they had “promote[d] the social equality of same-sex relationships and traditional marriage” among minors and thus violated the law.

“It means that first they authorized the event and then charged us with giving information about it to the media,” Gavrikov said late on Thursday, adding that he and Volkov had been detained in City Hall for more than two hours.

He also said that City Hall had insisted that all the eight people who signed the application for the event come to the meeting, but authorities had not specified that its purpose would be to ban the rally and charge them with violating the anti-gay law.

Although they already face substantial fines, St. Petersburg Gay Pride organizers said they would go ahead with the rally, scheduled for Saturday, July 7, despite the ban. They will announce the time and site at a press conference scheduled for noon on Friday.

Two previous gay pride events in St. Petersburg – on Palace Square, in 2010, and on Senate Square near the Bronze Horseman monument, in 2011 – were banned by City Hall on questionable grounds, but activists attempted to hold them anyway, resulting in arrests.

Last year, the event was attacked by a number of young men, some with their faces hidden. They managed to punch at least two LGBT activists before police arrested the activists themselves.

“The authorization was rescinded due to the fact that the format of the application did not correspond to the actual event that the LGBT activists were planning to hold,” St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko’s spokesman Andrei Kibitov told RIA Novosti.

Kibitov added that the ban was also influenced by complaints from the public. “A great number of calls and emails have been received not only from St. Petersburg, but from the other Russian cities as well, asking [us] to cancel the gay parade,” he was quoted as saying.

The “anti-propaganda” law, introduced as a bill by local United Russia  deputy Vitaly Milonov in November 2011 and signed into law by Governor Poltavchenko this past March, imposes fines of 5,000 rubles ($154) on individuals, 50,000 rubles ($1,537) on officials, and 250,000 to 500,000 rubles ($7,686–15,373) on organizations that violate the law.

The St. Petersburg Gay Pride march was initially authorized Tuesday to be held in the remote and mostly deserted Polyustrovsky Park at 2 p.m., Saturday, July 7. The site was suggested by City Hall as an alternative after it rejected all the more central routes and sites suggested by organizers.

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