A group of Russian LGBT+ activists have been arrested in St. Petersburg during an annual “Day of Silence” protest for sex and gender equality.

Some 11 people were detained by police on April 17, including Daniel Maksimenko, who spoke to reporters at local news site OVD-Info.

“The police are going to detain everyone who walked with their mouths sealed. I heard what they said,” said Maksimenko.

The activists were walking in the direction of the Church of the Saviour and covered their mouths with red tape when the police began making arrests. According to the organisers around 40-50 people attended the protest.

The “Day of Silence” is a global student-led protest to highlight the silencing of LGBT+ communities across Russia.

A history of anti-LGBT policing in St.Petersburg

In 2013 Russia implemented a “gay propaganda” law which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” towards minors. The European Court of Human Rights ruled the law is discriminatory.

Since it was implemented hate crimes against LGBT+ people have doubled in the country.

An activist displays a rainbow flag in front of the Chancellery in Berlin on April 30, 2017, during a demonstration calling on Russian President to put an end to the Chechnya anti-gay purge.
LGBT activists have filed a criminal complaint to Russia’s Investigative Committee.
(John MacDougall/AFP/Getty)

In August 2018 police detained around 30 LGBT+ activists in St Petersburg.  A total of around 60 campaigners assembled in Palace Square after their request for a pride parade was turned down by local authorities.

On November 27, 2018, the European Court of Human rights ruled that Russia’s ban on pride events breaches human rights. The ruling found that “the applicants suffered unjustified discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

According to polling in January 2018, 83 percent of Russians think gay people are ‘reprehensible.’ The poll marks a drastic increase from 1998 when some 68 percent found it unacceptable and 2008 when 76 percent found it wrong. 

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