Rainbow Flashmob Celebrates in Peace
‘Many people don’t go out to speak about their rights, not because they don’t care, but simply because they fear for their physical safety.’
Published: May 23, 2014 (Issue # 1812)
An annual LGBT rights rally, held to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, was held without incident on May 17 at the Field of Mars, although attacks took place before and after the event. Over 200 people turned up for Rainbow Flashmob, an event held annually in St. Petersburg since 2009, to celebrate the removal of the word “homosexuality” from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990 and to remind the public of LGBT rights violations.
“Our goal was to head to the streets for the [LGBT] community, as this date is very important, and we wanted to make sure all felt secure during the event,” said Sasha Semyonova, a coordinator with the LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out).
“Many people don’t go out to speak about their rights, not because they don’t care, but simply because they fear for their physical safety. So we wanted to create a space where the police would be able to perform their job well, with every possible measure of security provided so that the participants would not be harmed. This has been the most peaceful event since this rally started in 2009. There were no attacks during the Rainbow Flashmob and no one was injured.”
The massive police presence of more than 20 large OMON riot police trucks parked near the Field of Mars, as well as approximately 200 regular police and OMON police on site, helped protect the rally’s participants.
A number of left-wing activists from the Russian Socialist Movement (RSD) and supporters of Autonomous Action, an anarchist group, as well as civil and human rights activists, also came to support the event, holding placards and helping stand guard.
“We took part because we believe that the fight against homophobia and discrimination of any kind is extremely important, especially today and especially in Russia,” said Vladimir Plotnikov, an activist with RSD.
“Xenophobia [and homophobia] is bait that the authorities and oligarchs use to catch ordinary people. While they make profits, the people beat each other over fictitious problems.”
The rainbow-colored event saw people holding 300 colored balloons and rainbow flags, which were handed out by the organizers. Also handed out were placards with quotes such as, “We are for love,” “People are not a fence; you can’t paint them in one color,” “Guys, let’s live as friends” and “Stop! Homophobia.”
Lasting 20 minutes, the rally ended with participants releasing balloons in the air before heading off in rented buses that were to take them to undisclosed metro stations so as not to be attacked near the site.
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