Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Human rights abuse in Russia

On Facebook, a friend wrote:

"I've shared a lot I stuff in here. What's happening to gay people in Russia right now is very important to me and so is letting as many people know as possible, as the media aren't doing it. 

Please, please if I've ever shared anything of yours, liked it or if any of the inane shit I post has made you chuckle at some point, I urge you to find out what's happening in Russia and tell as many people as possible. 

This is not an LGBT issue, this is human rights abuse."

I must admit, I was vaguely aware that something nasty was happening to LGBT folk in Russia, but I hadn't looked too closely. Now I have, and this is what's happening:

In June, the Russian government made it illegal to promote "non-traditional" relationships to minors. They also passed a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples and unmarried individuals in countries where same-sex marriage is legal from adopting Russian children.

These laws have been criticised with a resolution from the European Parliament; the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs John Baird; and President Obama, among many others.

I don't know what the levels of hate crime against LGBT people has been before these bills, there were at least two homophobic murders reported before them, and since there has been an assault of a lone gay rights activist by paratroopers and the kidnap, torture and possible murder of a homosexual teenager. Either way, Russia sounds like a terrible place to be LGBT.

This has also got people worried about the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with natural concern for the LGBT athletes and spectators.

So, what can be done?

There's a petition for a boycott of the Olympics, however, a coalition of LGBT sports group think this a bad idea, instead asking the IOC for a Pride House at the event. This latter seems the more preferable - the event will be happening regardless - better to use it as an opportunity to highlight the issue, and make LGBT athletes visible, much like Jesse Owens challenged the racism of Nazi Germany at the Berlin Olympics.

Relatedly, there's a petition urging Olympic sponsors to condemn the new Russian legislation.

There's another petition against the laws here, and info of a protest outside the Russian embassy in London.

Petitions sometimes seem like a lazy option of getting involved in an issue - but some issues do need people to rise up and speak out against them, and petitions can at least demonstrate how many people care about an issue.

If you want to do more on top, write to your MP or MEP.

I'll leave you with a video that was put together for Brighton Pride:

1 comment:

  1. You missed the "dump Stoli" campaign. The idea is to boycott all Russian vodkas (a number of gay bars in the UK & US have already started).

    Vodka exports are not a huge part of their economy, so I think it's more a symbolic gesture against their national drink.


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