Protest over Russia's attack on LGBTQ people.
See the facebook event.
On August 3, 2013, the world will be sending a message to Russia that its treatment of its LGBTQ community is an attack on human rights.
On August 3rd, Toronto's LGBTQ community and our allies will be gathering at Church and Wellesley to send a message of hope to the LGBTQ communities in Russia that we support their fight for human rights and that we will be demanding our elected officials do something, that we all do something, to pressure Russia to end its homophobic laws and ensure that the LGBTQ community there have full human rights.
We will be meeting at Church and Wellesley at 7:30PM and then walking together to the Russian Consulate at Church and Bloor St.
BRING POTS and PANS - To make some noise!
WEAR SPORTS GEAR - To acknowledge that Russia is hosting the Olympics, a time when all the world will be watching! From speedos to Football pads!
RAIN or SHINE!
It will be an opportunity to find out what you can do - there are many ways to send the message we stand with Russia's LGBTQ community.
Just how hostile is the climate in Russia?
Consensual homosexual sex was decriminalized in 1993, but that has come to mean less and less in recent years. Ten gay activists brave enough to show up at a January demonstration in Voronezh were beaten by a mob. The body of a gay Russian man was found in Volgograd on May 10. He'd been sodomized with beer bottles and set on fire after coming out to acquaintances. Another was found stabbed and trampled to death in June.
President Vladimir Putin claims to care about "the rights of sexual minorities," but speaks darkly about gay marriage with respect to what he calls Russia's "demographic crisis." He's strongly influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church, whose Patriarch Kirill claims that recognizing same-sex unions is an "apocalyptic symptom."
A Levada Center poll of Russians revealed earlier this year that 89 percent of responders said they had no homosexual friends or relatives. Half said gays and lesbians made them feel "irritated and disgusted."
And how about from a legislative standpoint?
Putin recently signed a one-two punch of laws limiting the rights of homosexuals. They are:
A bill signed July 3 bans adoption for same-sex couples from countries where gay marriage is legalized. (It also bans adoption for single people and unmarried couples from said countries.) It's a fuck-you to marriage equality and a bigger fuck-you to parentless kids. The Kremlin claims the move is intended to protect children from "complexes, emotional suffering and stress" that gay parenting inflicts, even though studies routinely suggest quite the contrary.
A bill signed on June 30 banning the "promotion" of "non-traditional sexual relations" toward children (also known as Russia's anti-"gay propaganda" law). "Promotion" includes public displays of affection. Putin claims that the "Don't Say Gay"-style law is not discrimination, but "about protecting children from such information." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov put it this way: "We’re not discriminating against anyone, we just don’t want reverse discrimination, when one group of citizens gets the right to aggressively impose their values, unsupported by most of the population, especially on children." Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament, passed it almost unanimously, despite the European Union's condemnation and fears of "[increased] discrimination and violence against LGBTI individuals."
Practically speaking, the propaganda law means any Russian news outlet publishing an article or report that features a gay person must include a disclaimer, like this one RIA Novosti is running:
This article contains information not suitable for readers younger than 18 years of age, according to Russian legislation.
The law includes a provision that allows police to arrest and detain for up to 14 days gay or "pro-gay" foreigners. On Sunday, four Dutch activists were arrested at a human-rights seminar in Murmansk. One reportedly gave a lecture on gay rights, and the four of them planned to film a documentary about homosexuality in Russia. The filming reportedly included an interview with a 17-year-old, which is said to have precipitated the arrest. They were released from custody on Monday and reportedly fined 3,000 rubles ($92.80).
Arresting and detaining foreigners? Isn't that going to make things dangerous for those attending the 2014 Winter Olympics are held in Sochi in February?
The International Olympic Committee says no:
"The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games," according to the statement emailed to USA TODAY Sports.
So trust them, what's the worst that could happen? Oh right, you could spend two weeks in jail when this assurance is conveniently forgotten.