Russian Activist Beaten After City Bans Gay Pride

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Mar 29, 2013

The organizer of a gay pride parade in a Russian city was beaten after the city's officials announced that the event was banned, Pink News reports.

Officials from Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi Republic, which is located in northeast Russia, said they banned a gay pride parade that was scheduled for Mar. 31 in response to "requests from the city's religious and public organizations not to allow public events promoting homosexual values." Officials said Syktyvkar's Mayor Ivan Pozdeyev wants lawmakers to create a draft law that would prohibit similar events from taking place in the future.

After the announcement was made, Alex Kolegov, the leader of a neo-Nazi group in the city, beat Artem Kalinin, the gay pride organizer and chair of a local LGBT group. The incident took place in front of reporters that caught the assault on tape.

"This incident will not change my decision," Kalinin said. "We are going to hold Pride in spite of everything."

The event’s organizers said they will still go on with the pride parade despite the attack and receiving death threats from conservative religious and anti-gay groups. The activists can’t hold the demonstration in the city’s center, however, so they’ve resorted to holding it in a park in the outskirts of the city, far away from the general public.

Kalinin and several witnesses reported the attack but police did not make any arrests. Nioklai Alekseev, co-founder of Moscow Pride and GayRussia, said the attack is further "proof of full disregard of Russian authorities of the European Court verdict in the case of Moscow Prides by Russian authorities."

Russian lawmakers have passed laws in Saint Petersburg and other regions that ban "gay propaganda." The rules went into effect last year and state they can only be "enforced against direct appeals to minors who engage in homosexual activity." This means, however, that gay prides are still legal. The law can also fine individuals up to $17,000 for "promoting homosexuality" and "pedophilia" among minors. Those who violate the law can face jail time as well.

On Thursday, Gay Star New reported that Russian president Vladimir Putin said he wants a ban on foreign gay couples looking to adopt Russian children. He told the government and the Supreme Court to prepare amendments to the current procedure by July 1. The article notes that U.S. citizens are already prohibited from adopting Russian children.

Alekseev told the website, "In general, it is purely a political move. It will hardly have big consequences for foreign gays and lesbians but will harm Russian children who are kept in very miserable conditions." He added that it would be almost impossible to define the sexual orientation of a parent looking to adopt and "it will only mean that the already very corrupt Russian adopt system will become even more corrupted, which is already very homophobic."

Same-sex couples in Russia are not allowed to marry and are not legally permitted to adopt. Unmarried individuals are allowed to adopt, however, and officials do not require them to present proof of their sexual orientation.

"Those who have the money will still be able to adopt, whether they are gay or not," Alekseev said. "It’s just that the price of this will get higher due to the new restrictions."

"It concerns law on gay propaganda, bans of gay parades and now bans on foreign adoptions. It fact, all of these gay issues are starting to become a dividing line in Russia/West relations," the activist added.

Watch the video of the assault below (warning: graphic):


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