Despite St. Petersburg, Russia’s controversial and draconian “gay propaganda” law and memory of the arrest and detention of 17 gay rights activists last year over 100 gay rights activists held pro-gay banners reading “Repeal the Shameful Homophobic Law! Let’s Stop Hate and Discrimination Together!”
Under St. Petersburg’s “gay propaganda law” the activists risked arrest and could have faced up to $17,000 in fines and arrest for “promoting homosexuality” among minors as a result of their participation in the parade.
But it was not without incident. The group did have a minor confrontation with authorities who tried to stop them from holding rainbow flags.
Olga Lenkova, gay rights activist with Coming Out, said, “Despite attempts by the police to ban deployment of rainbow flags at the beginning of the march, activists were able to pass along the entire route with rainbow flags and banners with no arrests.” The Russian LGBT network released a statement about the event as well and said, “Last year in the May Day procession, anyone who held up a rainbow flag was arrested just for this. Today, the ’rainbow column’ marched with flags proudly held high and the feeble requests of the police to ’stop propaganda’ were ignored.
May Day event the group faced some confrontations with authorities who tried to stop them from holding rainbow flags.
Igor Kochetkov, director of the Russian LGBT network, addressed the crowd during this year’s May Day parade and said, “Friends, this is indeed a victory. We have not won, but the struggle clearly goes in our favor. Not just for LGBT, but for advocates of freedom and democracy across the Russian Federation. Happy 1st of May!”
This is what true courage in LGBT activism looks like.