Sunday, June 30, 2013

LGBTI activists under attack in Russia

Guided by Vladimir Putin, the Russian government has become increasingly repressive & authoritarian. A protest movement emerged in response to the fraudulent elections in 2012 that returned him to a second term as president but it has been crushed for now through arrests, trials, & political imprisonment.

Vague new treason laws make human & democratic rights subject to the caprice of the government & slap extortionate, punitive fines on protests the authorities deem illegal. Homophobic legislation recently passed by the Duma prohibits activities advocating “non-traditional sexual relations” & “the rejection of traditional family values.” The crackdown on all dissent has become increasingly vicious & against LGBTI activists has become extremely violent, not only by cops but by right-wing youth assaulting protestors. The right-wing thuggery is of course encouraged by the government not only to do its dirty work but to scapegoat LGBTI activists for the growing economic & political crises in Russia.

Putin is a former KGB agent from the gulag era once assigned to spying on university students. He’s not exactly an exemplar of democratic leadership! He recently empowered a political police force called the Investigative Committee to harass the opposition.

Many activists have, at least temporarily, been daunted by the repression & one cannot fault them for that. But hundreds of LGBTI activists continue to defy the repressive laws & violence & continue to converge in public protest. They are playing a particularly important role not only in advancing LGBTI rights but in defending human & democratic rights in Russia & they deserve our fullest respect & solidarity.

Here cops are arresting a gay rights activist at a Gay Pride protest in St. Petersburg yesterday. Gay rights activists & their supporters gathered for the event despite the parliamentary ban & were attacked by anti-gay thugs. Cops intervened to disperse the LGBTI protestors, not to protect them from assault.

(Photo by Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)

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