Anti-gay Russian MP reported hostage situation to shut down LGBT film festival, organisers claim
The architect of Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law turned up at an LGBT+ film festival and physically blocked the entrance in an attempt to shut it down.
Vitaly Milonov, a lawmaker in President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, turned up at the opening of the Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival at the Space Palma venue in St Petersburg on Wednesday evening (October 24).
The MP is known internationally for his extreme anti-LGBT views, introducing the country’s 2013 law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientations” towards minors.
The festival does not violate Milonov’s law because it is only open to over-18s.
However, the lawmaker and several supporters reportedly “blocked passage” to the venue, organisers said in a Russian-language statement posted to their website.
Organisers also allege that Milonov called the police and claimed that hostages had been taken inside the venue in order to get it raided. A spokesperson for the politician denied the allegation in a statement to Russian news outlet Rosbalt, saying that the politician was at the venue to investigate a possible violation of the ‘gay propaganda’ law and then alerted the police.
The Moscow Times reports that video footage of the incident shows Milonov shouting: “Dear citizens, you know yourselves that you are perverts; you need to disperse.
“We are Russian people who are on our home soil, and you’re not. Your motherland is Sodom and Gomorrah.”
The festival had been set to show Oscar-winning transgender film A Fantastic Woman, but the planned screening was scrapped after police arrived and cinema-goers fled.
The organisers described Milonov as a “PR clown,” adding that they will file a complaint with the State Duma’s Ethics Committee against Milonov—who had previously attempted a similar, unsuccessful stunt in 2016, according to Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta—for violating the body’s code of conduct.
A complaint will also be filed with the police about Milonov, “demanding compensation for the damage caused.”
Organisers added that the festival, which is set to run until November 1, will continue despite the incident.
They confirmed: “Despite the rocky start, the movie festival will still take place.”
A fresh screening of A Fantastic Woman was announced for Thursday evening, followed by gay romance Love, Simon. Other films set to be shown include gay ‘cure’ drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post and documentary Dykes, Camera, Action!.
The ‘gay propaganda’ law has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights, which warned of a chilling effect that stifles all dissent on LGBT issues.
Milonov has compared gay sex to bestiality and led repeated calls for Russia to withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest over LGBT+ content.
The lawmaker labelled the contest the “Eurovision sodom show” after Conchita Wurst’s 2014 victory, saying: “Even just broadcasting the competition in Russia could insult millions of Russians.
“The participation of the obvious transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian singers on live television is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay.”
Milonov said: “I will appeal to the bishops of Germany to excommunicate Angela Merkel and the members of the Bundestag who voted for this decision…. let them worship with the Church of Satan.”
“[Merkel] has entered into an agreement with Satan… she kissed Satan for the sake of forming a coalition government.”