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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

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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