St Petersberg, Russia is on the verge of becoming the third local legislature in Russia to criminalise “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, to minors.” (Gray, Wikipedia) Activists, such as Polina Savchenko, General manager of LGBT organization Coming Out, point out that “Organizers of public events cannot restrict access of minors to any open area; people under 18 can be there just by chance. Consequently, it makes any public campaigns aimed at reducing xenophobia and hate crime prevention impossible.” (Gray)
Why are they doing this? Andre Banks of AllOut.org says, “the beleaguered LGBT community in Russia . . . are being used as a political punching bag in the run up to elections.” (ibid) The ruling party, “United Russia faces a crisis of popularity . . .. A Levada Centre poll released on Tuesday showed that 51% of respondents planned to vote for United Russia – down from 60% just one week before.” (Elder) So they try to boost their ratings by attacking LGBT people.
This is when they are not stealing elections outright. When describing their 2007 victory, “the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that 'measured by our standards, it was neither a free, fair nor democratic election.'” (The Economist) That election featured “the entire machinery of the authoritarian state—including courts, prosecutors, media and security agencies.” (ibid) This meant that “large lorries with military and riot police surrounded Moscow's main squares.” (ibid)
An authoritarian state which uses police powers to maintain control is not on the side of the 99%. Using vulnerable minorities as scapegoats to maintain power is also undemocratic. By linking LGBT people with paedophilia, the ruling party is effectively inciting violence against LGBT people. State violence is not on the side of the 99%, whether it's carried out directly by a cop holding a canister of pepper spray, or by a vigilante, egged on to violence by agents of the 1% trying to hang on to power.
The 99% includes LGBT people. If we are standing together in solidarity with the 99% of OWS and the 99% of Tahir, we should also stand with the 99% of Russia. Already, the international outcry against this unjust law is causing St Petersberg's legislators to pause. The Pink Paper reports that, “St Petersburg lawmakers are reportedly reconsidering the provisions of a 'gay propaganda' law.” (Gray) Now is the time to act, as, “according to Federation Council of Russia speaker Valentina Matviyenko such ban on 'propaganda of homosexualism' might also be adopted on federal level.” (Wikipedia) We can stop this now before it gets worse.
Occupy homophobia! We are the 99%
How to Help
If you are near London, come to the protest.
Elder, Miriam. “Putin's United Russia party criticised for suggestive election advert.” The Guardian. 9 November 2011. Web. Assessed 23 November 2011. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/09/putin-united-russia-party-advert>
Gray, Stephen. “Outcry prompts St Petersburg legislature to reconsider 'gay propaganda' law.” The Pink Paper. 23 November 2011. Web. Assessed 24 November 2011. <http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/11/23/outcry-prompts-st-petersburg-legislature-to-reconsider-gay-propaganda-law/>
“LGBT Rights in Russia.” Wikipedia. Web. Assessed 24 November 2011. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Russia>
“The secret policeman's election.” The Economist. 6 December 2011. Web. Assessed 24 November 2011. <http://www.economist.com/node/10268185>