London wore red as hundreds protested against Russia’s anti-gay laws today (3 September).
Marie Campbell, from All Out, and Peter Tatchell, a veteran human rights campaigner, co-organized the protest attended by hundreds wearing red to show solidarity with LGBT Russians.
During the event, they were ushered away by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Alistair Burt to ask what Cameron should say and how he should speak out.
Campbell told Gay Star News: ‘We want to make sure that any statement David Cameron makes is going to be helpful to the cause and push President Putin in the right direction.
‘We don’t want him to use any rash words that might actually cause President Putin to react strongly in the opposite direction so we made some suggestions on what might be helpful and we gave them some advice that our Russian partners have given us.’
Tatchell added to GSN: ‘We want Putin to get that message loud and clear that other G20 leaders do not share his anti-LGBT stance.
‘We want him to feel isolated, embarrassed and exposed.
‘We hope that the pressure might at the very least get him to draw back on enforcing the new anti-LGBT law.’
The organizers of the event described it as a ‘huge success’
Chris Bryant, a gay Labour member of parliament, spoke to the crowd.
‘Can I just say to Mr Putin the next time he postures with his shirt off, people might just start to think he is promoting homosexuality?’ he said.
‘Please, please, please stand up for human rights across the whole of Europe, not just part of Europe, because human rights is a single strand. What hurts me, hurts you, what hurts a man in Russia, hurts me in the United Kingdom.
‘So stand up and set ‘niet’ to anti-gay laws, to anti-gay violence and to anti-gay oppression in Russia.’
He added to GSN there is ‘always hope’ for LGBT Russia.
He said: ‘In my lifetime in the United Kingdom it was illegal for a man to meet another man in a bar who he didn’t know before and to go home with them.
‘So I believe change is possible but we really have to fight for it. Sometimes maybe we presume too much because we have gained so much here.’
Tom Glynn, LGBT president at City University London and a psychology student, told GSN he was at the protest to be an inspiration to LGBT Russian students.
‘What is going on in Russia is completely unacceptable,’ he said. ‘I don’t think we should be supporting a place that is so homophobic in this day and age.’
Roy Grant, a self-proclaimed bear who was with his son, said he thought what Putin had done was an ‘absolute disgrace’.
‘The way things are going he’s trying to move backwards to something like Nazi Germany, outlawing gay people. I hope somebody assassinates him. It won’t happen but I’d like to see it,’ he said.
Several Russians have criticized the West for misrepresenting the country, and have often said they are just one country that has laws against homosexuality.
Campbell said the reason why people should care is that what Russia does ‘matters for the whole world’.
She said: ‘Russia is a huge, hugely powerful country, economically and politically.
‘If it decides it wants to attack its gay people then that gives cover, and a license, and a feeling of safety for many other smaller nations that may want to start or ramp up their own crackdowns on gay people.
‘So, the direction that Russia goes in is going to help dictate the rest of the world goes in, and the rest of those 76 countries where it is a crime to be gay.’
Check out a selection of pics taken by GSN at the event: