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Berlin joins protest against St Petersburg censorship law

German parliament members join activists to protest new and established anti-gay Russian laws
Protestors against new Russian laws arriving at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.
Photo by Dasha Zorkina.

About 200 protestors gathered outside the Russian embassy in Berlin to demonstrate against homophobic laws in Russia.

Members of the Bundestag, the German parliament, joined with LGBT activists and trade unionists for the protest. It was held on Wednesday (15 February) but pictures have only now become available.

They are concerned about proposed laws in St Petersburg, which effectively prohibit public discussion of LGBT issues and similar laws already introduced in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions.

The St Petersburg proposals have attracted widespread criticism including diplomatic pressure from the US State Department and Europe, a large-scale digital petition and a European Parliament resolution against them.

‘We express solidarity with the LGBT community in Russia,’ said protestor Marieluise Beck the Green Party member and head of the commission on Eastern European politics in the German Bundestag. ‘No one forced Russia to join the Council of Europe. Joining, however, Russia signed under the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.’

Tom Schreiber (Social Democrat), a parliamentary member in Berlin: ‘I will insist that issues of discrimination against the LGBT community in Russia is regularly raised in Berlin and will make every effort to ensure that these discussions result in specific resolutions backed up by specific support.’

During the demonstration, participants signed a petition to the deputies of the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly and the governor of St Petersburg, which will be handed over to them in the near future.

After the meeting protestors marched through the main streets of Berlin. The demonstrators chanted slogans against homophobia in Russia and passersby showed their support. The demonstration ended at Potsdamer Platz – the very heart of the Berlin and the focus of the Berlinale Film Festival.

The head of the Berlinale Section ‘Panorama’ and founder of the Teddy Award Wieland Speck spoke to demonstrators saying: ‘The representation of gays and lesbians in the arts and culture can not be denied. Every year there are more and more LGBT films in those countries where this topic has been previously a taboo.

‘We will continue to support the St Petersburg Side by Side Film Festival which is fighting for a space within the public domain for LGBT people in Russia.’

The Side by Side organization is one of those whose festival would become illegal under the new law.

The protestors organisers were Qvarteera in Germany, Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, Moscow’s Rainbow Association, the Lesbian and Gay Association of Germany (LSVD) and Germany’s Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung.

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