Saturday, April 07, 2012

Russian Gays Released After
Arrests Protesting New Statute

Translation of the sign: "What was that? Who's victory? Who's defeated?" Marina Tsvetaeva, from the poem "Under caress of an ivy plaid," devoted to her love Sophia Parnok. Credit: Maria Kozlovskaya.

 Cops questioning an activist. Credit: Polina Korchagina

Supporters of the protesters listen to a speaker. Credit: Natalia Tsymbalova

Members of the Coming Out advocacy group in Saint Petersburg are taking to the streets in creative ways, to send a message to the government and their fellow citizens that they are fighting against the new law prohibiting promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender propaganda. Full text of the law in English is here.

Coming Out designed some fabulous posters featuring iconic gay Russians including Peter Tchaikovsky, Rudolph Nureyev and Marina Tsvetaeva, and paid to have them plastered around the city but the outdoor advertising agency controlling billboards refused to display the posters.

The activist report that the signs were used for a public demonstration, and another act of civil disobedience happened on the street:

On 7 April at noon in front of the Oktyabrsky concert hall in Saint Petersburg a series of single person pickets were carried out. The pickets were dedicated to the Day of Silence. Seven people with sealed mouths took their turns protesting against discrimination and violence against LGBT people, against homophobia of the government which silenced and outlawed LGBT community with a new anti-LGBT law.

Vague wording of the law made police think over and discuss each slogan deciding whether it were a violation of the law or not.

Two protesters were arrested for “propaganda of sodomy and lesbianism” and after a few hours of detention were released. Both men were taken to the 76 police department of Saint Petersburg. The protesters must appear in court on 9 April.

Apart from the banners with slogans there were pictures of the famous poet Tsvetaeva and composer Tchaikovsky with quotes from their poems and letters which proved their homosexual love. Earlier one of the advertising agencies refused to put those banners in the city center on the advertisement stands fearing the fine of half a million rubles (equal of about 13 thousand euros). Around 30 people applauded to the brave picketing people expressing their solidarity and respect.

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