“Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people.”
Just two days after the anniversary of the death of 49 people in the gay Orlando nightclub shooting, this is the sign UK Gay Rights Activist Peter Tatchell was holding as he was arrested by Moscow police. Being the second time he was arrested for protesting on this matter, he was eventually released, after being told that he was due to appear in court later this month, with the accusation of violating laws which bar “all protests near the Kremlin and during the World Cup. Nonetheless, he tweeted,
“[I am] glad to stand in solidarity with Russian and Chechen LGBTs.” His protest was a result of inhumane treatment of the LGBTQ community in Chechnya, a Russian republic, specifically. Just last year, hundreds of men were allegedly held and abused in detention centers because of their sexual orientation. Chechnya’s leader himself denied the allegations and asserted that there are no gays in his Russian republic and that they should be removed from the region if there are.
Even though homosexuality was decriminalized in the whole of Russia in 1993, homophobia and discrimination are still common, just like everywhere around the world. It has gotten to the point where being gay has led to actual physical and violent consequences and more extreme cases than the US.
Fans traveling to Russia for the World Cup were actually being warned of threats of racism and homophobia, with heightened risks for the LGBTQ community. So not only do they face the risk of violent discrimination from Russian citizens, they also face the risk of inadequate protection from the state itself.
“It is very important to continue working with a younger generation of fans and young players, explain to them through games and sports about respect not only for their team but also for their rivals, to convey the idea that everyone in this world is equal,” said retired Chelsea midfielder Alexei Smertin in May, according to a statement cited by Russian state news agency TASS.
As citizen of the world, it is our duty to fight for the rights of marginalized and oppressed communities, including those of the LGBTQ. Racism and discrimination is something that is still very prevalent in our society, but if we just sit back and watch it, how can it ever be extinguished?