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article imageVigilantes attack Russian gays, spurred on by its anti-gay laws

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By Mathew Wace Peck     Sep 4, 2013 in World
WARNING: ABOVE VIDEO SHOWS DISTURBING FOOTAGE OF BRUTALITY MOTIVATED BY HOMOPHOBIA.
Disturbing evidence is emerging online of Russian vigilante groups attacking their fellow citizens simply because they are, or are perceived to be, homosexual.
The YouTube video shown above was reproduced by Americablog.com to, as they put it, expose the anti-gay thuggery taking place in Putin's Russia today, “to fight against anti-gay bias by exposing it.”
According to Americablog.com, Google initially removed the video by mistake, “thinking it was an anti-gay video (it is, of course a video about people who are anti-gay, but our intent in posting it is to fight against anti-gay bias by exposing it).”
Meanwhile, the BBC reports on the growing number of videos being posted on the Internet that show gay people being confronted and beaten up by others claiming to want to rid Russia of those who are of “non-traditional sexual orientation.”
The BBC have managed to track down a thug from one of the videos – a woman who, the BBC report says, is called Yekaterina – who is shown firing a gun and joking that she is "out on safari," hunting for paedophiles and gays.”
The woman, the report continues, is head of the St Petersburg branch of the vigilante group going by the name of “Occupy Paedophilia.”
“Our priority is uncovering cases of paedophilia,” Yekaterina tells them. “But we’re also against the promotion of homosexuality. And if – along the way – we encounter people of non-traditional sexual orientation, we can kill two birds with one stone,” she boasts.
Worse than the old Soviet Union
Elsewhere, in a club in Sochi, the owner, Andrei Tanichev, tells the BBC that aggression towards gay people is increasing. “There’s more aggression and it’s becoming more dangerous on the streets,” he says.
Incredibly, Tanichev says that the situation for LGBT people in the Russian Federation today is worse than it used to be in the former Soviet Union, when homosexuality was illegal, “Many gay people have changed how they dress, they’ve removed earrings, changed their hairstyles, to avoid having problems. Even back in the USSR, where homosexuality was a criminal offence, gays were treated better than they are now in Russia. Ordinary people see us as criminals. They hate us.”
The blame for the sharp increase in homophobia and attacks on gay people in Russia is being laid firmly at the feet of the recent anti-gay laws and accompanying rhetoric orchestrated by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Legislation introduced earlier this year, bans the spread of information about what the authorities term “untraditional sexual relations” to anyone under 18, erroneously claiming that homosexuality is a danger to children and the family.
Anastasiya Smirnova, of the country’s human-rights group, Russian LGBT Network, speaks of the law as "a great danger in terms of what kind of opinions it shapes. It entitles people to mob rule, to organised violence against those they perceive to be dangerous to society, to families and to children. People take over the role of the authorities to react against what they think is a violation."
Since Putin signed into law the new anti-gay legislation, the Russian authorities have come in for a great deal of criticism from the international community, including calls for a boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics, which are due to be held in Sochi.
Apparently washing his hands of the actions of the Russian vigilante groups, Vitaly Milonov, Mayor of St. Petersburg, claims, “We do not attack any sexual minorities. They have absolutely the same rights. But they should not try to change the Russian traditions supported by 90 per cent of the population.”
Milanov, however, is well known for his homophobic tirades. In an interview on BBC Radio Five Live he recently compared homosexuality to perversion and bestiality, and accused the British broadcaster, Stephen Fry, of being “sick” because of his attempt to take his own life.
It’s certainly the case that Russia is regressing in terms of how it views its own citizens who are not heterosexual or, in the nonsensical terms of the authorities, those who are of “non-traditional sexual relations.” Although, male homosexual acts were decriminalised by Russia in 1993, the European watchdog, Ilga-Europe, now rates the state the “most difficult country in Europe in which to be gay.”
Last weekend, a new play, Sochi 2014, premiered in at the King’s Head Theatre in London. It detailed the lives of LGBT people in the Russian Federation, using transcripts from over 20 Russian gay people.
But the final words go to the Sochi club owner, Andrei Tanichev, who believes that the debate about homosexuality is designed to distract the Russian people from the more pressing problems at home and to unite the country behind an evermore authoritarian central government.
“Your average Russian citizen sitting at home watching TV now understands who he needs to fight against, who the enemy is,” Tanichev tells the BBC. “It’s gays – and the Western countries who support them. And the more the West supports gays in Russia, the more Russian people hate us – because the accepted wisdom here is that the West is evil.”
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