The author of Russia’s gay gag law arrived at an LGBT festival yesterday to harass guests and allies.
The homophobic United Russia city parliament deputy Vitaly Milonov reportedly arrived with an entourage of five to six people calling guests ‘animals, ‘un-Russian’ and ‘faggots’, according to QueerFest organizers,
The Russian lawmaker, who co-sponsored the ‘non-traditional relationships’ law, previously said a gay activist must die for his ‘extremism’.
According to organizers, Milonov and his group also shoved around two guests, slapping them in the face.
After Milonov and his group started attacking guests, police reportedly arrived shortly after, harassing venue owners to show ownership papers.
In its fifth year, QueerFest gives Russian LGBTs the opportunity to take a visible stand against homophobia.
QueerFest organizers told Gay Star News yesterday there’s always a concern attacks will occur, or the venue will withdraw last minute, but they are still committed to hosting the event.
Speaking to Gay Star News yesterday, Polina, an activist with QueerFest, said QueerFest is a way to show solidarity with the Russian LGBT community.
Polina told GSN yesterday the LGBT community expects these threats and will continue to hold their ground: ‘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.’
In its fifth year, QueerFest is Russia’s ‘queer pride and culture festival’ comprising seminars, discussions, photo exhibits and concerts to make a statement against homophobia.
On its first day QueerFest drew over 150 people to The Non-Existent Floor Gallery (Nesuschestvuyuschij Etazh) to St Petersburg. The festival is scheduled to take place until 28 September.
According to the QueerFest organizers, the attendees included representatives from:
- Human Rights Council of St. Petersburg
- Anti-dicsrimination Center “Memorial”
- Russian LGBT Network
- Side by Side LGBT film festival
- Alliance of Heterosexuals for LGBT Rights
- representatives of Swedish, Danish, Finnish cultural institutes
- and several diplomatic missions of European countries and the US