From Russia With Cheer: Queer Festival a Major Success in Saint Petersburg
The law orders fines for individuals and organisations deemed to have violated the law, and, unusually, also singles out foreigners who risk fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,106), detention for 15 days and deportation. Many commenters believe Russia underestimated the international reaction to the law, which now risks overshadowing the Sochi Winter Games, the biggest event in its post-Soviet history. But Milonov, who describes himself as a ???man of European culture??? defends the law as part of a promotion of family values in Russia and the protection of children. ???We have to defend the future of our children,??? said Milonov, who has children aged four and one. He railed against the legalisation of gay marriage in some European countries, describing it as a ???symptom of an illness in society, a spiritual degradation???. ???Ninety-five percent of Russians are against gay marriage. Gays do not have any support in Russian society.??? ???We could say that paedophilia is a sexual choice we could say that murder is one way to survive. But truth is truth and we cannot change the way things are.
28, the fifth annual Queer Pride Festival will come to a close in Saint Petersburg after an exhilarating nine-day run of events, discussions, screenings, and debates. More than 150 visitors, many representing human rights organizations, showed up for the opening, crowding into a small art gallery in Russia’s “cultural capital.” As always, foreigners were a big draw, with diplomatic missions from the EU and United States there to show support. Saint Petersburg’s civil society groups have had it rough in recent years. There were the police raids in 2008 when activists were put through hell by prosecutorial pressure and beatings by security forces. Long before the world and Vladimir Putin had discovered Pussy Riot, the main global campaign for persecuted artists in Russia focused on freeing Voina. Then things got worse. In the summer of 2012, the Duma passed a law requiring nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign funding to register as “foreign agents.” Authorities in Saint Petersburg were especially repressive, conducting a series of state inspections of NGOs. Under pressure, Russia’s civil society showed united in opposition, and the fight continues in courts. Two St. Pete-based LGBT groups were fined under the “foreign agent” law: Vykhod (Coming Out) and Bok o Bok (Side by Side) Film Festival, though the court decision against Vykhod was reversed in August. A representative of the organization took part in the G20 sidelines meeting with President Obama, using the opportunity to discuss gay rights in the context of broader human rights violations in Russia. Activists from Coming Out and Side by Side played a key role in the Queer Festival’s success. The opening exhibit featured key moments from Russia’s LGBT history, and there’s a lot to be proud of.
In an unprecedented ministerial-level meeting at the United Nations, representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, El Salvador, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway, joined Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.N. high commissioner of human rights, gay rights advocates, and other high level representatives of the European Union to discuss violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals. Cognizant of the urgent need to take action, we therefore call on all United Nations Member States to repeal discriminatory laws, improve responses to hate-motivated violence, and ensure adequate and appropriate legal protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, participating members of the group said in its declaration. Organized by and for this cross regional groupknown as the LGBT Core Group at the U.N.Russia was not explicitly invited. Neither the Russian Embassy, nor the Russian Mission to the U.N. claimed to have known about the meeting. While it was limited to this core group, however, the meeting was announced, said Charles Radcliffe, head of the global issues section at the UN human rights office in New York. The fact that it was happening was not secret, he said. Any country could have requested to join. Russias absence underscores a wave of criticism engulfing the country for its anti-gay policies, the most contentious of which bans propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors. That law, along with two othersone banning the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples and to individuals in countries that allow gays to marry, and another classifying homosexual propaganda as pornographyhave sparked worldwide protests, as well as calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Over the summer, President Obama criticized Russias anti-gay posture, saying such discrimination violated basic morality. But on Thursday, the International Olympic Committee declared the propaganda law was not in violation of the Olympic charters anti-discrimination clause. Participants at Thursdays ministerial meeting adopted a declaration stating their countries strong and determined commitment to eliminating violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Many countries have embarked on historic reformsstrengthening anti-discrimination laws, combating hate crimes against LGBT people and sensitizing public opinion, said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in her remarks Thursday.