Over 150 LGBT people and their friends have braved homophobic and transphobic thugs to demand their rights at a protest in St Petersburg, Russia.
The protest for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) today (17 May) was in the city’s main park, Marsovo Pole.
It commemorated hate crime victims including the death of Vladislav Tornovoi, a 23-year-old gay activist who was raped, killed and mutilated in the city of Volgograd on 10 May.
Rainbow-colored balloons were released into the air along with black balloons to remember Tornovoi and other victims.
It was one of the largest public demonstrations for LGBT issues ever in Russia.
LGBT activists were joined by groups such as Soldiers’ Mothers, Solidarity, Anti-Discimination Center Memorial, Yabloko party, and others.
Around 150 counter-protesters, held at bay by police barriers, displayed photos of victims of pedophiles, shouted slurs, threw smoke pellets and small stones at the demonstrators.
LGBT witnesses at the event say among the anti-gay activists were two radicals who are currently on trial for the attacks on LGBT campaigners last year. One of the counter-protester leaders was Vitaly Milonov, the author of the law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ and United Russia city parliament deputy.
But 10 minutes into the demonstration, police closed it down, citing risks to the ‘health and safety’ of citizens. Officers led the pro-gay and trans protestors to busses and escorted them to distant metro stations.
The Coming Out St Petersburg organization, who helped set up the event with the Alliance of Straights for LGBT Equality, said in a statement: ‘Today’s action showed that on one hand, after the adoption of the “propaganda” law in St Petersburg, homophobic aggressors have become bolder and better organized.
‘On the other, despite the increasing violence and intimidation, and, at times, as a result of them, LGBT people are becoming more ready to openly speak up for their rights, and are joined by more and more heterosexual allies in their struggle.’