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Anna Anisimova: Coming Out For Human Rights

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • Anna Anisimova, one of the founders of Vykhod (Coming Out) remains optimistic.
    Photo: For SPT

Coming out was a surprisingly easy process for Vykhod (Coming Out), St. Petersburgs main gay rights organization. While other LGBT advocacy groups faced difficulties in registering as non-profits and suffered harassment, Vykhod managed to avoid most of the hurdles placed in front of other NGOs.

Although that part of the process was easy, for Anna Anisimova, and Vykhod, that straightforwardness has long since come to an end. A year and a half ago, St. Petersburg passed a law prohibiting gay propaganda, and a similar law was enacted at the federal level a few months ago, provoking international outrage. Anisimova has been with Vykhod since its foundation in 2008. In addition to working as the organizations executive director, she also serves on its board of directors and coordinates the groups activities, which range from public demonstrations to free, individual psychological counseling for members of the LGBT community across the country.

As Anisimova tells it, the passage of the recent law on nontraditional sexual relations, has made life more dangerous for members of the LGBT community in Russia, giving those, who experience hatred, rage, or hostility toward LGBT people the feeling of legal justification. Anisimova sat down recently with The St. Petersburg Times at Vykhods office in the city center to talk about what is one of Russias only bulwarks against hatred and ignorance.

Q: What was the idea behind founding Vykhod?

A: Vykhod was founded in 2008. The original members met at an event organized by the Russian Gay Network during a spring protest against homophobia. At the end of the rally, a few of us decided that protesting against homophobia in St. Petersburg once a year just wasnt enough. We thought that it would be great to create an activist group that would hold events to spread awareness about issues concerning the LGBT community, particularly as it exists in St. Petersburg, and to fight against the current problems that the community faces, in particular those of discrimination and silence in the face of hate crimes.

Our first event was a Day of Silence, held in early May 2008. Around ten people helped organized it, and it was the first time that a Day of Silence was held in St. Petersburg. Afterwards, we decided that we would have to sit down and seriously get to work on creating a new organization. At the start of 2009, we registered Vykhod with the St. Petersburg city government.

Q: What motivates you?

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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