Russia officially approves gay rights protest for the first time
City officials allow gay rights activist to hold a protest in what is believed to be the first time since the federal anti-gay laws took effect last summer
Gay people will have the rare chance to speak out against hatred in Russia after authorities approved a protest yesterday (8 May).
Alexander Yermoshkin, a gay rights activist, will gather up to 100 people to release a rainbow of balloons into the sky on 17 May for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.
While some gay people were allowed to take part in a May Day rally earlier this month, this will be the first time a LGBTI rights protest has been approved since the nationwide anti-gay law took effect last summer.
Previously all public events to speak out against LGBTI discrimination have been refused.
These included rallies to fight against homophobia in sport and a call to allow the LGBTI community freedom of movement in a single visa.
Another banned event was a tribute to the gay victims of the Nazis during World War II.
But the authorities in the city of Khabarovsk have allowed Yermoshkin to hold a gay rights protest later this month.
Yermoshkin wanted to speak out as he was fired last year after working 18 years as a geography teacher. He was forced to leave his job directly because of the ‘gay propaganda’ law.
Last year, before the federal law took effect, Khabarovsk accepted the application for a gay rights rally in the city. The protest however was quickly dispersed after a neo-Nazi group showed up and harassed the participants.
In order to ensure they could not refuse this year, Yermoshkin scrapped posters calling for LGBTI equality and scaled it down to a simple release of balloons with people’s wishes attached.
In his application, he said the protest intends to be a ‘resistance to fascism, a fight against discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against representatives of the LGBT community.’