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Maria Baronova: What unites us is more important than our differences (Open Russia)

posted 11 Jul 2016, 03:08 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Jul 2016, 03:11 ]
16 June 2016

By Maria Baronova, civil society activist

Source: Open Russia 

Photo: Wikipedia

The inalienable right to be free and to love is given to every person not by the government nor the society in which a person is born, but by nature itself. I have been reading the Russian-language Internet lately and I have been shocked by the level of aggression and homophobia which is being expressed by our society. It simply shouldn’t be this way. At all.

On 12th June, 49 people were victims of a shooting at a gay club in Orlando. More than 50 people were injured. The shooter, Omar Matin, is a U.S. native whose parents immigrated to America from Afghanistan not long before his birth. The hatred which the shooter held is spreading across the world like a cancerous tumour. And Russia is no exception. In traditional discussions about who is guilty, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin or all Muslim countries – many of my fellow citizens, inhabitants of Russia, fail to show compassion for those who died – just anger, pain and fury.

Someone from the 'Young Innovators of Tatarstan' - whether leader of the organization or not isn’t clear - wrote on his social networking page:

“Some Afghan guy rightly shot in the gay club to ****, 50 *******. Another 53 are now in hospital – what a shame that they didn’t kick the bucket. I really hope they all die. The Union of Young Innovators wholeheartedly supports this decisive action!”

There were comments of support on the ‘innovator’s’ page.

Fear overwhelms anyone who has ever experienced discrimination – be they Russian, female, gay, liberal, member any “different” group – this fear is generated by, among other things, Article 6.21 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation, and the level of socially approved homophobia, which has become so strongly ingrained in recent years and which is so quickly spiralling out of control.

Self-identity through fear is not just a personal threat to the individual. Now we have an enormous number of people who do not hesitate at all to express their misanthropic ideas, which get passed on to their children. This is a threat to Russia’s national security.

Homophobia, the fear of any differences, should not be fixed in Russian law. Article 6.21 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation should be removed. Fighting against its terrible consequences ought to be the meaning of life for all those who fought for it to be introduced.

The Russian Constitution, Article 19, states:

1) Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and the court.

2) The state guarantees equality of human and civil rights and freedom regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, property status or official status, place of residence, religion, beliefs, membership of a non-governmental organisation, as well as other circumstances. Any form of restriction of civil rights on the basis of social, racial, national, linguistic or religious identity is forbidden.


I’m not going to put up with the fear that fundamentalists impose upon us. I’m not going to tolerate the existence of immoral laws in my country which generate fear among particular social groups – gay, lesbian and transgender people. The victims of each terrorist attack carried out by radical Islamists are the victims of anger, which is becoming a consciously adopted position. The victims of street violence in our country are the victims of just such a ‘position’ when populists roll back progress so that they ‘do not disturb the supporters of traditional society.’ As a result, homophobia becomes a socially accepted behavioural norm.

Tomorrow, I on behalf of all like-minded people, who value the freedom to be themselves, to be different and to be a patriot, will request the mayor of Moscow to hold a mourning rally in memory of the victims of the terrorist attack in Orlando, as well as the other terrorist attacks that try to suppress our people through their ideology of blood and violence. In connection with the tragic events in the gay club, the main symbols of the mourning rally will of course be rainbow flags and banners for peace and love, not violence and war.

What unites us is more important than our differences. Everyone has different views and belongs to different social groups, but it is a simple desire for freedom and justice, and not hate, which brings people together. And it is necessary to fight for the right of everyone to say “No” to terrorism, which is seeking to push everyone into a kind of equality, and burn them at the stake of a modern Inquisition. Belgium, France, the A321 plane crash from Egypt – no one can feel safe until we challenge terrorism with a unity of opposites, which alone is able to protect the right of each of us to be ourselves.

Translated by Kate Goodby
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