Manifestations of homophobia on Orlando day of remembrance

posted 27 Jun 2016, 11:02 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Jun 2016, 11:05 ]
15 June 2016

Source: (info)
Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International, Moscow: The arrests of LGBT activists in Moscow on the day of remembrance for the victims of the terrorist attack in Orlando is a manifestation of homophobia by the authorities.

Islam Abdullabekov and Feliks Gliukman were arrested by police officers on Monday while attempting to light candles and place a poster with the words “Love wins” by the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, where people brought flowers in memory of those killed in the gay club in Orlando, U.S.A.

The two men spent three hours in a police station, after which they were charged with violating Article 20.2, Section 2, of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation – “Organisation or holding of public events without submitting in the established order a notification about carrying out a public event.”

Islam Abdullabekov and Feliks Gliukman must appear before a Justice of the Peace within the next few days. If they plead guilty, they will face a punishment in the form of a heavy fine or administrative arrest up to 10 days in duration.

“This is a crude violation of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, even more shameless in view of the tragic circumstances which caused those individuals who were arrested to go the Embassy,” said the director of the Russian office of Amnesty International, Sergei Nikitin.

The Russian leadership, including President Vladimir Putin, also offered their condolences to the relatives of the victims of the Orlando shooting. The official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, criticised homophobic comments about the tragedy from Russian users of social networking sites on her Facebook page. However, after arriving at the U.S. Embassy, Abdullabekov and Gliukman met with a different attitude on the part of Russian law enforcement agencies.

Feliks Gliukman told journalists that the police seized the poster they were carrying and asked for them to leave. When Islam Abdullabekov responded that they had no intention to leave, the police marched both of them to a police car and brought them to the police station.

According to witnesses, the police got involved after the Salafi Orthodox Defence activists addressed them, asking them to dispose of the LGBT symbolism and punish those who brought it. Posters brought to the Embassy with the LGBT symbolism have since been trampled and the rainbow flag has been burned, judging by the photos which were uploaded to a radical Orthodox Christian site later in the evening.

“This whole situation is a cynical manifestation of homophobia that prevails not only over respect for human rights, but also over human compassion in the face of this tragedy,” said Sergei Nikitin. 

Translated by Kate Goodby