On Friday, an LGBT activist stood alone in St. Petersburg, Russia with a gay pride flag that read, “This is propagating tolerance.” The article on this young man was written by The New Civil Rights Movement, and was titled, “You’ll Have No Idea How Much Some Russians Hate Gays Until You Watch This.” The videos within the article demonstrate the depth and barbaric nature of the hate some Russians feel towards gays. Worst of all, this is a drop in the bucket in terms of the violence and oppression of gays in Russia.
It is not only activists that are being attacked. There are innocent teenagers being targeted and lured by anti-gay radicals who interrogate, and in some cases torture. It is clear that no gays are safe in Russia. How could they be safe when there is a law that bans any support for gay rights?
The government clearly has no intention of listening to the group it is essentially trying to erase from society. In addition to this, we have lunatic citizens enacting their own forms of street justice against gays. In all of this controversy, violence, and sadness, there has been little to no effective advocating and protesting on behalf of gays in Russia. While being gay in the United States is immensely far from perfect and peaceful, it is clear that our government is taking steps forward (repeal of DOMA, dismissal of Prop 8), while the Russian government has taken an enormous step backwards. It is clear that activists, protesters, and advocates need to be louder and more passionate than ever before.
The first step to fighting for gays in Russia is to be informed. On July 21, the New York Times published an opinion piece on the anti-gay law and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. The article explores the declaration of the law by Putin and not only reveals the deception, inconsistencies, and falsities in Putin’s so-called logic, but also examines this anti-gay sentiment in a historical context. The New York Times and nearly all major publications and news outlets are covering this issue. It is important to try and keep up-to-date on what is going on. Strong sources of information include the Times, Huffington Post, Towleroad, Raw Story, Advocate, Guardian, and many more. PolicyMic writers have also written strong articles on the topic. Check out “This Dutch Activist Was Arrested For Even Talking About Gay Rights in Russia,, “Will Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Lead Protestors to Boycott the 2014 Olympics?” and “Russia Gay Propaganda Ban: Speaking in Defense of Gay Rights Now a Crime in Putin’s Russia”.
After you’ve familiarized yourself with exactly what is going on in Russia, it is time to get involved. The biggest movement to erupt in America thus far has been a move to stop purchasing and selling Russian vodka. The New York Observer does not argue that this movement is negative, but offered more powerful ways that people can get involved in a recent article published on Tuesday. The actions listed in the article are, “Join Protests,” “Sign Up to Put Pressure on Putin,” “Boycott the 2014 Olympic Games,” and “Sign a petition to disallow visa for prominent Russian officials.”
Explore the various opportunities to get involved. Tell other allies and LGBT advocates. Be upset. Be angry. But don’t sit around. Gays in Russia desperately need help and support. We need to stand in solidarity with them, and show them that the world is watching and that the world cares. Too often in history we look back and see oppressed groups and are shocked by the inaction of others. Let’s not be those people who stand by.