Six LGBTI advocates were injured when a man allegedly attacked them with an unknown substance in Moscow.
On Saturday 11 November, the six were leaving the Fourth LGBTIQ+ Family Conference, organized by LGBTIQ group, Resource.
One of the injured was prominent activist Zoya Matisova. She recently joined the board of the Russian LGBT Network.
The Network’s director, Mikhail Tumasov, said some of the victims were knocked to the ground with minor injuries. Police and ambulance were called to the scene.
It is still unclear what was used in the attacks, it was originally thought to be some kind of acid. Tumasov said it smelled like acetone.
The group are trying to figure out how the attacker knew about the location of the conference.
‘I believe there was a person – a spy – who pretended to be an LGBTI person to get the correct information about the event which was hidden from the public,’ Tumasov told Gay Star News.
The LGBTI community and in particular, its activists, face a lot of violence for their work.
‘Unfortunately, these incidents happen very often and usually we have to bear in our minds many options like plan A, plan B etc (when organizing events),’ Tumasov said.
‘This (attack) shows again the level of hypocrisy of the Russian powers not to see any of LGBTI problems. This is in spite what is happening in Chechnya or in Moscow.
‘Some people filed the incident to the police and we will see if any action will be done to follow this hate crime which for sure it is.’
The Russian LGBT Network were quick to condemn the attack as a hate crime on the basis of sexual orientation or/and gender identity. Its board called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
‘We also believe that there should be no place for violence in the society,’ the Network said in a statement.
‘We express our support to the LGBT+ Moscow Resource Center and to the organizers of the Fourth Family LGBT+ Conference, and support the decision to postpone the event in order to ensure the safety of participants. ‘
LGBTI people are still very widely persecuted, even though Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993. In 2013 Russia introduced an anti-gay propaganda law, which prevents promoting ‘non-traditional sexual relationships.
Last month, Evdokia Romanova was fined £660 ($789) for posting stories about marriage equality from Buzzfeed and the Guardian on her Facebook page.