A fight that left one teacher with a concussion and several students bruised and bloodied came after what many in Russia are calling a simple misunderstanding. A group of thugs mistook a St. Patrick’s Day flashmob for a gay activist group, immediately launching into a violent, homophobic attack.
A fight broke out after students began a belated Irish-themed flashmob in a mall in Irkutsk. Wearing bright green clothing and kilts, the young men’s flamboyant attire angered male bystanders. Acting in a way that Russian police deem tolerable, the thugs brutally assaulted the group for straying outside Putin-sponsored heteronormative boundaries.
The students were from a nearby language school called the Easy School.
"The Easy School members were wearing historic costumes, particularly kilts and their opponents mistook them for representatives of non-traditional sexual orientation,” the source said, using a Russian phrase meaning gay." a police spokesman said according to The Journal.
The school released a statement following the assault: "Yes our students and teachers were among the injured, but it could have been any young people who weren’t to the taste of these grey masses."
While the 2014 Sochi Oympics drew attention to Russia's homophobia, the anti-gay attacks continue. From luring gay teens into secluded places and torturing them to bullying and assaulting people who represent themselves differently from others, Russia is an epicenter of intolerance.
But the country isn't alone. Socially right-wing groups everywhere are threatening people's right to freedom of expression.
International organizations and concerned masses continue to pressure Russia to drop the anti-gay propaganda laws that have increased the violence. But is this enough? While the Easy School released a statement on the issue, organizations within the Kremlin must do more for its youth.