In recent weeks, the situation of anti-gay violence and ‘gay propaganda’ laws in russia has drawn widespread public attention in the media. However these attacks and others like them have had a longstanding history.
In the following PinkNews catalogue of anti-gay stories in Russia, we take a look at some of the most shocking events to date, from the father who imprisoned his son in a rehab centre last year, to the earliest incidents covered by this site, such as when the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was punched in the face at a 2007 pride parade.
The stories come in no particular order however, neither chronological nor hierarchical. This is to reflect that the Russian history of anti-gay oppression and violence has followed no straightforward passage either, and cannot be thought of as a something that has only just happened.
In May, a gay man from the southern Russian city of Volgograd who was tortured to death in an apparent hate crime, was sexually assaulted with beer bottles, and had his skull “smashed with a stone.”
The naked and beaten body of the 23-year-old man was found in the courtyard of an apartment building in the city.
“He was raped with beer bottles and had his skull smashed with a stone,” said Natalia Kunitskaya, a spokeswoman for the Volgograd region branch of the Investigative Committee.
She went on to admit that the attack was believed to have been a hate crime, which was noted as a rare admission from Russian law enforcement agencies on the issue of homophobia in the country.
A later statement from the Moscow-based Investigative Committee confirmed that two men aged 22 and 27 had been detained in connection with the attack. One of the suspects has a criminal history, the statement said.
It went on to say that they thought the victim had been drinking with two men, apparently while celebrating Victory Day, a national holiday in Russia held on 9 May.
Regional Investigator Andrei Gapchenko, said the men started beating the victim when he told them he was gay.
In 2011, Moscow police arrested and detained a number of prominent gay rights activists including the openly gay US soldier Dan Choi as homophobic violence from Russian neo nazis broke out during the banned Moscow Pride march near the Kremlin.
A large group of gay rights activists including the British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell waved rainbow flags and carried signs reading “Russia is not Iran.” They were attacked by ultra-Orthodox campaigners who gathered to disturb the march, banned for the sixth year by the Moscow authorities.
Peter Tatchell reported: “We witnessed a high level of fraternisation and collusion between neo-Nazis and the Moscow police. I saw neo-Nazis leave and re-enter police buses parked on Tverskaya Street by City Hall.
“Our suspicion is that many of the neo-Nazis were actually plainclothes police officers, who did to us what their uniformed colleagues dared not do in front of the world’s media.
“Either that, or the police were actively facilitating the right-wing extremists with transport to the protest”.
In June, deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Trans-Baikal Parliament Alexander Mikhailov said he planned to put forward a law allowing marines to whip gay people in public.
Speaking to the Chita news agency Mr Mikhailov said they should be whipped in public squares by “marines”.
He described homosexuality as a “common shame”.
Referencing a doctor, who criticised the decision of several European countries to legalise marriage rights for same-sex couples, Mr Mikhailov praised the doctor and reportedly said: “We have to deal with such things”. He added that his province should adopt a law in which the marines have the right to flog the “asses” of gay people.
“In Russia for many centuries the ass was used for educational purposes and not for love entertainment. So we should use it according to its intended purpose,” the MP said.
In July, a Russian human rights group asked prosecutors to look into the homophobic comments.
Vitaly Cherkasov, head of the Zabaikalsky Human Rights Centre, said he believed that Mr Mikhailov’s remarks could help incite hatred toward the gay community among locals. The regional prosecutor’s office said it would respond to the group’s request to evaluate the legality of the comment.
In August, a lone gay rights activist, Krill Kalugin, was assaulted by a violent group of Russian paratroopers in the city that was the birth place of the country’s anti-gay legislation.
5: Father imprisoned gay teen son in rehab clinic after a witch failed to exorcise his homosexuality
Last year in April, a 16-year-old was forced to escape from a rehab clinic after his traditionalist father locked him up for being gay.
Ivan Kharchenko, a Moscow teenager, spent 12 days in the Marshak rehab facility, supposedly used to treat drug addictions. He was released after 12 days of forced detention following a siege staged by his friends and supporters including by the Russian human rights campaigner Dmitry Aleshkovsky and State Duma Deputy (MP) Ilya Ponomaryov.
He was placed in the facility against his will after his paternal grandmother had tricked him into seeing a witch who attempted to exorcise the ‘spirit of homosexuality’ from him. When this route failed, his father turned to doctors and medication for help.
“I’d rather have you disabled or a vegetable than gay,” the father told the son according to local Ekho Moskvy radio.
The BBC Russian Service reported that Mr Kharchenko did manage to place a banner reading “I love you” addressed to his boyfriend out of his window at the facility.
In January, homophobic Russians attacked gay activists in the city of Voronezh following a protest against anti-gay laws.
Videos seen by PinkNews showed bottles, snowballs and other objects being thrown at the pro-gay protesters as well as fascists performing Nazi salutes outside an Adidas store. The videos later showed police officers separating the protesters.
At least one pro-gay protester needed medical assistance according to sources.
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