Russia: Activists claim St Petersburg officials have sanctioned IDAHO rally

May 13, 2013
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LGBT activists in Russia have announced that St Petersburg will take part in the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), despite a law banning “homosexual propaganda” in the city.

The Moscow Times reports that Vykhod, an LGBT rights group, announced on Monday that they had been given permission to hold a rally in the Field of Mars park on 17 May to mark IDAHO.

“We think that it’s especially important to remind [people] that homosexuality is a perfectly normal sexual orientation,” said Vykhod member Olga Lenkova.

The announcement has yet to be confirmed by St Petersburg’s official representatives.

The city is known for its opposition to LGBT rights rallies, which are labelled as “homosexual propaganda”. A bill outlawing such “propaganda” was passed in February 2012.

A federal version of the bill is also on the cards. In January the Russian State Duma adopted the first reading of a homophobic censorship bill which would impose federal sanctions for the promotion of “gay propaganda”, similar to the law in St Petersburg. 

In spite of the prohibitions, on 1 May gay rights demonstrators held a “Rainbow Mayday” on the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg.

On Friday a gay man from the southern Russian city of Volgograd was tortured to death in an apparent hate crime.

“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 Saturday 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 death of the man has concerned activists, who say prejudice is becoming more concentrated due to anti-gay laws.

More: Europe, gay rights rally, homosexual propaganda, IDAHO, March, rally, Russia, Russia, St Petersburg

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