News / Europe

Moscow Gays Protest Russia's New Propaganda Ban

Policemen break up a fight between a gay rights activist and an anti-gay rights activist (in yellow) during a protest against a proposed new law termed by the lower house of Parliament, as
Policemen break up a fight between a gay rights activist and an anti-gay rights activist (in yellow) during a protest against a proposed new law termed by the lower house of Parliament, as "against advocating the rejection of traditional family values" in central Moscow June 11, 2013.
James Brooke
Moscow’s gays and their supporters rallied Wednesday with rainbow flags -- only 24 hours after Russia’s Parliament passed a law that effectively bans gay-pride parades or speaking publicly in defense of gay rights.

The gays marched amid an anti-Kremlin opposition rally that drew about 10,000 protesters to a Moscow park.

Between the red flags of the communists and the black flags of the anarchists, the gay activists walked bunched together, waving their rainbow flags, but appeared visibly nervous.  They eyed the black uniformed police that cut occasionally through the marchers.

Vitaly held a brightly colored gay-rights sign.  But he talked with a nervous stutter.

"In any normal country, [there] should not be a law like this, said Vitaly, a 19-year-old computer student.  So, it is really negative.  It really makes no sense.  And my friends, who are mostly not gay, also understand the law is absurd and that something wicked is happening now in our country," said Vitaly.

Critics respond

The day before, about 20 gay activists gathered outside Russia’s Parliament building to protest the vote.  Right-wing militants attacked and beat the activists.  Then, police made their move - they arrested the gay protesters.

Anna, a 22-year-old linguistics student, talked as her rainbow flag fluttered in the summer breeze.

I know that yesterday people were beaten up, and they were arrested, she said.  And I am actually very scared that this is the last opportunity for me to freely come and not be arrested.

At the Duma, the vote was 436 - 0, with one abstention.

Ilya Ponomaryov, was the deputy who abstained.  On Wednesday, he marched in the opposition rally among the red flags of the "Left Front, a socialist group.

He said he abstained because the language of the act was vague.  He also said he saw the legislation as part of a hard-right turn taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who seeks to bolster his support among traditional conservatives.

A 51-year-old English teacher, Alexei Sinodov, was one of thousands of unaffiliated protesters who marched Wednesday.  He said the anti-gay law was just the latest in a series of restrictive laws passed since President Putin returned to the Kremlin one year ago.
The same undemocratic law, he said. I have nothing against the gays, the lesbians — they can do whatever they like.

Public-opinion polls indicate large majorities of Russians are hostile to homosexuality. At best, they want it to be kept hidden away from the public.  

Anna, the lesbian marcher, says the Kremlin seeks to rally popular support by attacking internal enemies.

"We are easy to kick, so they are kicking us," she said.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs