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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

Russia officially approves gay rights protest for the first time

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.’

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