St Petersburg QueerFest offers LGBTs a way to stay in Russia and make things better

The first QueerFest since Russia banned 'homosexual propaganda' will see over 1500 visitors attend the 10 day event to take a stand against gay hate

St Petersburg QueerFest offers LGBTs a way to stay in Russia and make things better
19 September 2013

Risking fines and arrests, the fifth annual international QueerFest launched in St Petersburg today.

Attracting nearly 2000 visitors every year, Russia’s ‘queer pride and culture festival’ comprises seminars, discussions, photo exhibits and concerts to make a statement against homophobia.

It will be the first festival to take place under the country’s law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ where individuals and organizations can face fines and jail time for promoting LGBT rights.

This year’s 10-day QueerFest, from 19 to 28 September, will introduce visitors to LGBT police officers and parents of LGBT individuals from Sweden, hold debates about women’s role in Russia’s LGBT movement and premiere a concert with Swedish rock band Gravitonas.

‘Mister Putin, I will be straight forward with you: we will never back down. The struggle for the human right to love cannot be stopped,’ said Gravitonas lead singer Alexander Bard at Stockholm Pride this August.

Polina, an LGBT rights activist with QueerFest, spoke to Gay Star News about the possibility of facing persecution from the government or from the community for holding the event.

She told Gay Star News:  ‘In St Petersburg, the [‘homosexual propaganda’] law was already in effect last year March 2012, so we’re used to this, we always have to think of plan b, c, d.

‘It’s very possibe the venue where the festival is being held will cancel the contract at the last minute, it’s happened before. It won’t happen because they hate gay people, but because they’re afraid. They’re afriad of getting fined or the government coming for them.

‘The second concern is safety of participants. That is because the aggression of violence from nationalists has increased drastically in the past year. They do monitor our websites and come to our events.’

Polina advised participants to be careful, not travel alone, but also highlighted the need now more than ever for the Russian LGBT community to make themselves visible and respected.

‘Some hold to the opinion that the only path for Russian LGBT people today is out of the country. While that may be so for the specifically targeted groups and individuals, such as same-sex families and LGBT rights defenders under risk, there are LGBT people who intend to live in this country and try and improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

‘That is why it is all the more important now to continue organizing QueerFest, a space where LGBT community can share in a sense of pride, and the city can learn more about LGBT culture, lives, and rights,’ she added.

Since President Vladimir Putin signed the anti-gay law in June, a ripple-effect has torn through local and international communities:

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Gay Americans cross the pond for marriage

GSN speaks to some ex-pats who left the land of opportunity for the chance to marry in the UK
No thumbnail available

Is General Medical Council failing trans people as they clear top doctor after four year probe?

General Medical Council accused of ignoring real trans concerns while wasting time on investigation they have now dropped
No thumbnail available

London mayor candidates face grilling from gay voters

Current Conservative mayor criticised for not making a single reference to the gay community in his 152 page manifesto
Lance Bass to join The Meredith Vieira Show as regular panelist

Lance Bass to join The Meredith Vieira Show as regular panelist

Says Bass: 'I've seen her dance moves and our new girl/boy band is going to be awesome!'
No thumbnail available

Conservative advocate questions Liz Cheney's patriotism because she supports gay marriage

Anti-gay conservative Bryan Fiischer warns voters to be wary of US Senate candidate Liz Cheney
No thumbnail available

Ukraine lawmakers demand ban on Kiev gay pride

62 Ukrainian parliamentarians signed a petition demanded from Kiev's mayor to ban a planned gay pride parade later this month
Facebook is becoming a more dangerous place for trans and gender-variant people

Facebook is becoming a more dangerous place for trans and gender-variant people

Another one has been kicked off Facebook for using an 'incorrect name', Jane Fae questions how far this can go
No thumbnail available

International gay film festival announces full line up

The Iris Prize festival includes sexy gay vampires, horny Mormons and stories of first love
No thumbnail available

Melbourne v Sydney: Speedo smack-down!

The age old rivalry between Australia’s leading cities also extends to their gay water polo teams
No thumbnail available

Gay Australia ambassador offers to resign after Prime Minister Tony Abbott snubs partner

Diplomat's boyfriend is told to wait in car instead of greeting PM