The plight of LGBT Russians, whose lives have been made far more difficult and dangerous due to the country’s anti-gay legislation, is the subject of a new film by Vice.
‘Young and Gay in Putin’s Russia’ delves behind the headlines of several shocking homophobic attacks from the past 12 months, including the rape and murder of a 23-year-old man in the Russian city of Volgograd.
The documentary, by Vice journalist Milene Larsson, also assesses the role of far-right neo-Nazi gangs such as Occupy-Pedofilyay, who justify carrying out homophobic attacks by claiming they are administering justice to paedophiles.
As part of her documentary, Larsson spent time interviewing activists and members of Russia’s LGBT community.
“People get murdered just for being who they are”, she told PinkNews.co.uk.
The film shows the memorial for a gay rights campaigner, who died from illness, descending into violence when violent thugs turn up.
Larsson told PinkNews.co.uk that it was the scariest moment during her time on location.
“I was afraid to even walk out of the car. You could see that they were looking at you, trying to work out whose side you were on.”
The journalist said the police often “act like drones” and frequently fail to stop violence against LGBT campaigners.
“One of the gay rights activists we interviewed explained how the police are so ill-educated they don’t even know what ‘LGBT’ is”.
Larsson added: “They will say things like ‘who else is part of this LGBT’ – as if it was a form of terrorist group.”
The documentary also shows how several LGBT people in Moscow use a special gay-friendly taxis service, in order to meet up with other LGBT Russians and avoid homophobic attacks.
When asked if she expected that campaigners would attempt to stage protests at next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Larsson replied: “I image that they will try of course but it’s really difficult. I mean even for a journalist getting into Sochi is really difficult.”
A federal bill banning gay “propaganda” was signed into law by President Putin in June.
It prescribes fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18 – ranging from 4,000 roubles (£78) for an individual to 1m roubles (£19,620) for organisations.