New Video Shows Anti-LGBT Violence in Russia
A new video released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch shows disturbing evidence of anti-gay violence in Russia, carried out by vigilante groups like "Occupy Pedophilia."
"The Russian authorities need to address a deteriorating situation of widespread and concerted abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and activists," HRW writes. "The authorities' failure to act and some officials' homophobic comments expose LGBT people to further harassment and violence and embolden the attackers, Human Rights Watch research found."
The report goes on to say: "As the host to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, which begin on February 7, 2014, in Sochi, Russia should act in accordance with the principle of nondiscrimination, a core provision of the Olympic Charter. As a member of the Council of Europe, and party to multiple human rights treaties, it should meet its obligations to provide equal respect and protection for LGBT people."
HRW's Russia researcher Tanya Cooper said that the authorities in the country "have the power to protect the rights of LGBT people" but are "ignoring their responsibility to do so."
"By turning a blind eye to hateful homophobic rhetoric and violence, Russian authorities are sending a dangerous message as the world is about to arrive on its doorstep for the Olympics that there is nothing wrong with attacks on gay people," Cooper said.
Last summer Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the so-called "homosexual propaganda" bill into law, effectively banning "nontraditional" relationships, claiming same-sex relationships harm minors. Those who violate the highly controversial law face fines and even jail time. Media outlets can be hit with heavier fines if found in violation of the measure.
HRW goes on to detail some of the anti-LGBT violence that has taken place in Russia but notes, "The absence of relevant data makes it impossible to quantify the extent to which such violence and harassment increased during 2013, but all of the victims and LGBT groups who spoke to Human Rights Watch said they experienced an escalation in homophobic attacks starting in late 2012."
St. Petersburg-based LGBT group, the Russian LGBT Network, conducted an anonymous survey in 2013 on anti-LGBT discrimination. More than 50 percent of the 2,007 people surveyed said they "experienced psychological abuse, and 15 percent had experienced physical violence. Only 6 percent of victims contacted police," HRW writes.
"At least three murders allegedly motivated by homophobia were reported in May, a month before the adoption and signing of the federal anti-gay 'propaganda" law,'" HRW adds.
"The discriminatory impact of the anti-LGBT law and hateful language on state television have created a climate of intolerance against the Russian LGBT community," Cooper said. "Russian leaders should denounce, not feed, homophobic hysteria, or the Kremlin's silence will be taken as condoning the violence."
HRW also reports that organized vigilante groups, like "Occupy Pedophilia," carried some of the violence against Russia's LGBT community about. The group made headlines last year for luring gay youth via social media in order to record their victims while being tortured and humiliated. Maksim Martsinkevich, the group's founder, was arrested in Russia last month after fleeing to Cuba, however.
" 'Occupy Pedophilia' is an explicitly homophobic movement that entraps men seeking a same-sex encounter and then berates them with homophobic slurs and physically assaults them while recording the proceedings on video," HRW writes. "The group posts the videos on various social networking websites to further humiliate the victims."
Watch the clip below (warning, the video shows extreme violence and shows disturbing images):