The Russian authorities need to address a deteriorating situation of widespread and concerted abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and activists. The authorities’ failure to act and some officials’ homophobic comments expose LGBT people to further harassment and violence and embolden the attackers.
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.
“The Russian authorities have the power to protect the rights of LGBT people, but instead they are ignoring their responsibility to do so,” said Tanya Cooper, Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “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.”
This video contains disturbing images of attacks on LGBT people filmed and disseminated by the perpetrators. Viewer discretion advised.
“Why the fuck are you dressed like that?”
“I’m coming from a costume party.”
Human Rights Watch has documented a large number of vicious attacks and aggressive harassment of LGBT -- lesbian gay bisexual and transgender -- people in Russia.
“If you dress like that again you fucker.”
It's happening in the context of the homophobic legislation that bans propaganda of "non-traditional" sexual relationships among minors.
A vigilante group, Occupy Pedophilia, essentially uses, the pretext of protecting children, of fighting pedophilia to harass and attack gay people.
“You’ll come with us.
“I won’t come with you, I’ll stay here.”
They invite them for a fake date and they proceed to berate them for their homosexuality and in many cases to abuse them physically. They film all these proceedings and then post them on social networks, on YouTube, to humiliate the victim even further. People think that an LGBT person is not a human being, but simply a toy they can play with. If such a person is walking on the street, they think, Why not punch him? What we see in these videos are criminal offenses, happening in the context of complete impunity.
“You piece of trash!”
This an organized phenomenon.
These groups operate across Russia and are coordinated online. And this movement has a distinct ideology, a neo-Nazi ideology. It’s important to understand who we’re dealing with. These are fascists who have chosen the easiest prey, gay people. And they don’t even have to hide it anymore.
“I’m sorry, I’m guilty.”
“Do you agree that we should kill you?”
“I suppose that’s my fate.”
In one of the most egregious cases of violence that we have seen so far and documented an Uzbek migrant was lured and abducted by a group who burned his clothes. They put a gun, or what looked like a gun to his head. They threatened him with violence and forced him to say that he is gay and that he regrets that he is gay. Then they handcuffed him gave him a huge glass bottle and ordered him to rape himself with that bottle.
Almost every single demonstration for the support of LGBT rights and LGBT equality that happened last year was met with aggression, violence, attacks and harassment of LGBT activists.
Police on one hand detained LGBT activists but on the other hand there is a total failure on the part of the Russian law enforcement authorities to take active measures to prosecute hate crimes against LGBT people.
“I was punched in the forehead, and the bruises descended under my eyes. There was a lot of swelling, one eye did not open at all. And when I went to the police in order to submit a claim, the officers at the station just said, ‘That’s alright, you’re gay, so it’s normal that you were attacked, why would you need to submit a complaint against someone?’ That’s how it goes.”
Russia should take active steps to investigate these homophobic crimes and bring the attackers to justice. It should also denounce publicly this violence and make sure there is zero-tolerance for homophobic crimes and violence in Russia. The Russian authorities should repeal the federal propaganda law because it only inflates this type of violence and shows Russian people that LGBT community is second-class citizens in Russia and that violence against them is normal.