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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 30 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 35
Help support LGBT rights in Russia - Demonstration planned at Seattle consular residence Sept. 3
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Help support LGBT rights in Russia - Demonstration planned at Seattle consular residence Sept. 3

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

At first, when Americans heard about these hateful Gay propaganda laws that the Kremlin was in support of, most of the country barely paid it any attention. Surely they wouldnt, we thought. But then they did. And then we got angry. Still, it was way over there and somebody surely would do something. Well, that somebody never showed up to help and that something they were supposed to do never got done. And now, weeks into this terrible reality, Putin and his goons, along with hundreds of homophobic sociopaths, have raped, sodomized, imprisoned, bullied, outed, and murdered LGBT Russian citizens, immigrants, and - in some cases - bullied visitors.

It really is like Nazi Germany all over again.

But I will stop there. Im not going to liken Putin to Hitler because, well, Adolf was a real special kind of asshole and millions of LGBT Russians have not lost their lives to gas chambers and firing squads. But thats not to say that if we dont do something, it wont happen.

You dont believe me? Well, just remember when you heard about what was going on over there and how it has spiraled out of control. Thats right - I mean it - it has spiraled out of control. Fact: You have a criminal government violating human rights laws (and its own constitution) while holding the 2014 Winter Olympics hostage. Fact: With each passing week something new, some new terror report, is coming out of Russia and the situation for the LGBT population in Russia has gone from bad to worse to dire.

ITS TIME TO ACT
So, what are we waiting for? For all of Stoli Vodka to go down the drain or, I know, maybe Putin will stop acting like a closeted homophobe on a mission to conceal his sexual orientation by any means necessary and sprout a rainbow out of his ass and all will be forgiven. Obviously, I am being facetious but I am also being very serious. It is time that we, as a global movement of the connected web, stand up and say NO MORE! and boycott everything Russian. And I do mean all of it. It is important that we are successful at this protest of the law, corrupt government, and institutionalized homophobia so we can, just like we are doing with marriage equality at home and abroad, leap from one strong victory to another. Meaning, if we defeat big bad Russia in this fight for human rights and decency, then defeating homophobia in Uganda and Jamaica will no longer seem like a pipe dream.

If you are astute then youve caught a sense of urgency, maybe even activism, in my writers voice. Good. Because heres why: The Russian government's new law condemning so-called Gay propaganda has now encouraged people to report their LGBT neighbors to local authorities.

Thats right: the witch-hunt has officially began in Russia.

LGBT and persons perceived to be LGBT are in danger after a notice allegedly from the Russian government says any person who suspects that a neighbor or tenant is disseminating homosexual propaganda should contact the police immediately.

Increase your vigilance when you talk to your neighbors, when you are checking your mail, and in elevators, the notice says, according to a translation. You can easily become a target of homosexual propaganda. There is one step from being homosexual and to start propaganda of homosexualism and molesting decent people.

LAWYERS HOUSE RAIDED
Whats worse? Russian prosecutors reportedly raided the home of activist and lawyer Nikolai Alexeyev. Reuters reports that officials ransacked Alexeyev's home and removed several pieces of electronic equipment.

Do you think this is all legal? Alexeyev asked reporters inside his apartment after the raid. What if they now start raiding flats every day, for instance?

The raid was spurred by a Russian parliament member who lodged a complaint against Alekeyev.

What is next? Because there really isnt much left that can be done to the Russian LGBT community except - well, there goes that Nazi Germany scenario everyone wants to scoff at. Ill tell you what, instead of ignoring the problem, how about becoming a part of the solution?

Social Outreach Seattle (SOSea), alongside Equal Rights Washington, Ingersoll Gender Center, Dan Savage, #DumpRussianVodka campaign, The Seattle Lesbian, Seattle Gay News, and more have joined others in Seattle to call for the immediate repeal of the homosexual propaganda law and homophobia sanctioned by Putins government.

RALLY IN MADISON PARK
As LGBT leaders in our community, we have joined All Outs Global Speak Out events being held worldwide September 3, and is timed to occur one day before Western leaders meet with President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The rally will be in the form of a demonstration on the sidewalks outside the Russian consular residence in Seattle's Madison Park neighborhood. The groups will call for world leaders to speak up and speak out to President Putin in support of LGBT human rights and to demand that Russia's anti-gay laws be ultimately repealed.

Potential event activities include sidewalk chalking, musical performances of pieces by historic Gay Russian composers, decorating the area with rainbow streamers and flags, demonstrations with signs to passing drivers, message delivery to the Consul General, and participant interviews with media.

The location of the rally is 3726 East Madison St., Seattle. On-street parking is available nearby. The demonstration will begin at 4:30 p.m. and end by 6 p.m.

Participants are encouraged to bring signs and rainbow flags, and to wear light blue (the traditional color most associated with LGBTs in Russia). The protest will remain on sidewalks adjacent to the building, not in the street.

The International Global Speak Out events have been endorsed by LGBT organizations worldwide, including All Out, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the Peter Tatchell Foundation in Great Britain, Queer Nation New York, BoycottRussianVodka.com, LGBT Solidarity Day San Francisco, and many others. Events will take place in London, New York, Seattle, and other cities that day. More information is available at http://www.allout.org/russiaevents.

WE MUST BE THEIR VOICE
These new 'Gay propaganda' laws in Russia have made it impossible for LGBT Russians to advocate for themselves. It is illegal to be out of the closet and LGBT people are being brutalized and persecuted. It is crucial that we speak up for Queer Russians. And our leaders must speak up to Putin and the IOC must act. This is a 'never again' moment, said Dan Savage, sex columnist and author.

We are way past the point in Russia where silence will protect us. ... The more the Kremlin knows the world is watching, the safer we are on the ground, said Masha Gessen, Russian LGBT journalist and author.

Lets be clear. Putin is breaking the law. The anti-Gay laws and other crackdowns on Russian freedom violate Russia's own constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the International Declaration on Human Rights. People from around the world and their leaders must speak out and demand accountability, said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of All Out.

The LGBT struggle for equal rights is a global fight. We will not stand by and remain silent as we watch our LGBT brothers and sisters get bullied, beaten, jailed, - and, in some cases, killed - at the hands of street thugs and violent criminals. The Seattle Russian consul will hear our voices loud and clear that we demand the repeal of the Russian government's anti-LGBT laws at once. SOSea gladly stands in solidarity with the other leaders of this movement. We are one community, working together.

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