Monday, September 15, 2014

Follow the Rubles: HRC & LGBT Russian Groups 
By Todd Swindell and Michael Petrelis

Recently, gay researcher and writer Brian M. Heiss wrote to remind us that it's been just over a year since American LGBT activists and organizations got angry and in the streets to protest anti-gay laws in Russia, and to commence a number of fundraising efforts.

You may wonder what this and our recent posts about the Human Rights Campaign have to do with our District 8 Supervisor race, and the response is we're writing these posts on our campaign site to show how we deliver accountability at the national and international level.

We've excepted from Brian's email to bring you his key points and questions. All of the groups mentioned, along with Russian gay organizations, will be made aware of these questions and if we hear from them, we'll share their responses. Brian writes:

June 30, 2014 marked one year since the Russian Federation anti-gay legislation banning the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors" became enacted as law. However July 21, 2014 marks the first anniversary of Harvey Fierstein's NY Times Op-Ed titled "Russia's Anti-Gay Crackdown" (

With the one year anniversary of America's gaining awareness of Russia’s anti-gay law, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit the impact that the collective efforts here in the US had to help make a difference in the lives of our LGBT brothers and sisters in the Russian Federation. No one has been more effective and dedicated than you, Michael, in pushing for accountability and transparency by the US-based groups who solicited donations from our community with the promise that our donations would directly support Russian Federation-based LGBT organizations and individuals.

Aside from issuing press releases on the first anniversary of the enactment of the Russian Federation anti-gay law (; it seems that the organizations, so quick to solicit donations for the LGBT communities in the Russian Federation, have largely forgotten about the fight for equality in Russia since the closing ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics.

I prepared the material below in hopes that you might reach out to your contacts to hopefully gain answers to these important questions:

1) HRC and Arcus Foundation:

HRC and Arcus Foundation together formed the Russia Freedom Fund (

Q: How were the groups able to circumvent the Russian Federation’s Foreign Agent Law and fulfill the promise to supporting local Russian Federation-based organizations that have been effective at combating discrimination and violence?

2) HRC:
HRC's December 19, 2013, press release states it was the “first contribution to the Russia Freedom Fund in the amount of $100,000” from the funds raised by the “Love Conquers Hate” campaign (

Q: Has HRC and the Arcus Foundation made additional contributions to the Russia Freedom Fund? If so, in what amount(s) and when?
Q: What are the total net proceeds from the sale of the “Love Conquers Hate” t-shirt?
Q: How much money was raised by donations to the “Love Conquers Hate” campaign excluding net proceeds from the sales of the t-shirts?

3) Russia Freedom Fund:

In an email to Michael Petrelis on January 24, 2014, regarding transparency and accountability related to HRC’s $100,000 donation to the Russia Freedom Fund, Julie Dorf from The Council for Global Equality wrote: “The specifics of how money will be disseminated will not be made public for the safety of the recipients” (

Q: Without identifying specific Russian-based LGBT organizations that have received funds from the Russia Freedom Fund, might Dorf be so kind as to provide examples of how financial assistance from the Russia Freedom Fund has empowered or impacted Russian Federation-based LGBT organizations or helped move the needle toward equality in the Russian Federation?

4) Principle 6 Campaign: American Apparel, AllOut & Athlete Ally:
On December 2, 2013, AllOut and Athlete Ally announce that they have partnered with American Apparel on the "Principle 6 Campaign" (, a clothing line highlighting the non-discrimination clause of the Olympic Charter [and] “majority of the proceeds from the sale of clothing will go support the Principle 6 campaign and directly to lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) advocacy groups in Russia fighting discrimination and anti-gay laws.”

Regarding [the proceeds], in late January 2014, Wesley Adams of AllOut shared with Petrelis this info: “Closer to Sochi, we'll be making an announcement about how much money we'll be donating to LGBT groups in Russia from the sale of Principle 6 apparel" ( No announcement was made prior to or during [Sochi and questions remain]:

Q: How much money was raised through the sale of Principle 6 apparel?
Q: If so, what LGBT groups in the Russian Federation received funds from the Principle 6 Campaign?
Q: If you do not wish to identify the specific groups, might you please share the amount of money to date that the Principle 6 Campaign has donated to LGBT groups in the Russian Federation?

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