Bad Vlad: Put pressure on Putin over gay hate

An appearance at the UN is a chance for the world to show it is against Vladimir Putin’s anti-LGBT abuses, says international rights campaigner Omar Kuddus

Bad Vlad: Put pressure on Putin over gay hate
22 August 2012

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is on a rampage against human rights.

On 17 August the world heard that Putin’s courts formally banned pride marches for 100 years in Moscow.

Then later the news broke that anti-gay activists are using the government’s gay gag laws to sue Madonna for $10million (€8million) in ‘moral damages’ because the queen of pop spoke up for gay Russians in a concert in St Petersburg’s earlier last week and also enraged Russian officials by speaking out on anti-gay propaganda law.

If that was not enough, punk band Pussy Riot was sentenced to two years in prison for speaking out against the government. The judge cited ‘homosexual propaganda’ as one reason to bring the hammer down on the three young women [two of them mothers]. The three members of the band, Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced to two years in prison for ‘hooliganism’.

Madonna condemned the Russian punk band’s conviction, and urged other artists to speak out for the band.

‘I protest the conviction and sentencing of Pussy Riot to a penal colony for two years for a 40 second performance extolling their political opinions,’ she said.

‘Even if one disagrees with the location or how they chose to express themselves, the sentence is too harsh and in fact is inhumane.

I call on all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment. I urge artists around the world to speak up in protest against this travesty. They’ve spent enough time in jail. I call on all of Russia to let Pussy Riot go free.’

As a global activist for LGBT equality and human rights, I say that enough is enough.

In a matter of days Putin is going to come face to face with all the leaders of the world at a high profile, media-packed United Nations Meeting in New York.

If the LGBT community unites and moves fast, we can ignite a global media firestorm that embarrasses Putin’s government and gets his allies and corporate backers to push him to change course, not only freeing Pussy Riot but also ending the crackdown against Russian LGBTs.

Equality and freedom belong to all Russians not a select few, who deserve the freedoms enjoyed by their comrades.

Putin’s government is trying to make enemies of the LGBT community and advocates and activists. When the first bill to silence LGBT activists was passed in St Petersburg, the world thought it would never be enforced.

It was and to date, there have been over 75 arrests under the gay gag rule, with the members of Pussy Riot amongst its most famous accused.

Putin’s Russia is a silenced environ and the only remaining pressure point is to publicly shame him and the actions of his government in front of the leaders of every country around the world. With LGBTs formally silenced in St Petersburg, Pride officially banned and Pussy Riot in prison, Putin is counting on his critics’ and the world’s LGBT voices to fade away.

He is counting on us to keep quite. I for one have no intention to do so. For this goes way beyond Russia in its consequences.

The anti-gay propaganda law in St Petersburg was not the first but the demands for these to be passed elsewhere and at national level seems to have increased because of it. More similar laws are proposed in Hungary, Moldova and Lithuania. It was only through LGBT activism and international pressure that a similar bill in Ukrainian was shelved, for now.

President Putin does not want to be on the ‘world’s most hated’ list while he’s attending cocktail parties at the UN and united we can make sure that he can’t avoid the voice of the world’s condemnation in regards to his stance on homosexuality in Russia.

Every voice counts and together we can build the largest petition ever delivered to a world leader at the UN and also show the LGBT community is no longer prepared to be treated as second class citizens.

There is an AllOut petition in place for the situation in Russia that can be accessed here. Their first petition against St Petersburg’s gay gag rule reached over 272,000 people and they feel that can double that with a bit of help.

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