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Gay Rights Demonstration Turns Violent

Published: January 24, 2013 (Issue # 1743)



  • Protesters at the gay rights rally.
    Photo: Igor Tabakov / MT

MOSCOW Ademonstration outside theState Duma onTuesday ended infisticuffs as Orthodox activists clashed with opponents ofa bill targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual andtransgender people.

Police andat least one Duma deputy intervened tohalt theviolence.

About 30 LGBT activists met atnoon onGeorgiyevsky Pereulok foran event they called "Kissing Day" toprotest aproposed ban on"homosexual propaganda." Gay andlesbian couples posed forphotographs atthe entrance tothe Duma building while kissing.

But Orthodox activists showed up atthe event andtried tobreak it up, throwing eggs andketchup atthe couples andeven attacking them when they started tokiss. Several journalists were also attacked.

Thegay activists were protesting abill that stipulates fines forpromoting homosexuality among minors. Thebill was introduced inthe Duma inMarch byNovosibirsk regional lawmakers. Discussion ofthe bill bythe Duma had been scheduled forTuesday but was pushed back.

"This bill andthe Duma that wants toconsider andpass it is not thechoice ofsociety, which is tolerant, unlike thedeputies who want toban us frombeing ordinary people andequate us with pedophiles," activist Sergei Ilupin said.

Thedebate over gay rights came intothe national spotlight last year after St. Petersburg city legislators passed alaw similar tothat proposed inthe Duma. TheSt. Petersburg statute instituted fines forthe promotion ofhomosexual relationships among minors, andit essentially bans gay pride parades.

Several regions, including Novosibirsk, Ryazan, Arkhangelsk andKostroma, already have similar laws onthe books.

Thenationwide proposal has pitted gay activists andhuman rights groups against conservative forces lobbying forthe ban. TheRussian Orthodox Church is one ofthe measure's most prominent supporters.

"These people are unhealthy, so they must stay quiet andbe treated," said former actress Galina Simonova, who came toTuesday's event toshow support forthe Duma initiative.

Several Duma deputies witnessed thebrawl between activists, andIlya Ponomaryov ofA Just Russia tried tobreak up thefight. Former boxer Nikolai Valuyev, adeputy with United Russia, stood passively byand smiled before going inside thebuilding, Itar-Tass reported.

Police did not block thegay activists fromstanding infront ofthe Duma building but stepped inwhen fighting broke out, arresting atleast five Orthodox activists bythe end ofthe protest.

Thefighting continued even after gay activists had walked away fromthe Duma. Several Orthodox activists attacked two gay demonstrators inside theOkhotny Ryad metro station.

LGBT rallies protesting thebill were held inseveral other cities Tuesday as well, including St. Petersburg, Voronezh, Arkhangelsk, Tomsk, Syktyvkar andSamara.

InArkhangelsk, gay activists gathered ona city square infolk costumes andproclaimed that "LGBT values don't differ fromheterosexual values."

OnMonday, discussion ofthe bill byparliamentarians was pushed back toFriday, thelatest ina series ofdelays inbringing it tothe Duma floor.

"Something init raises questions," AJust Russia faction head Sergei Mironov said inexplaining thepostponement, Interfax reported.

Ahead ofplanned discussion ofthe bill last month, LGBT activists held ademonstration that also ended inbloodshed. Several gay activists were detained bypolice, including Yelena Kostyuchenko, anorganizer ofTuesday's event anda reporter foropposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, who spent two days injail afterward.

"We hope that eventually thebill won't even be considered bythe Duma," Kostyuchenko said. "But if it is, we'll come again."





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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