Clashes with authorities and alt-right protesters took place at St. Petersburg’s largest Pride parade in years
Over 100 activists took to the streets of St Petersburg for the city’s eight Pride, one of the largest turnouts for the LGBT event ever in the area.
It was only in 2014 that St. Petersburg authorities gave consent for the event, according to Moscow Times, restricting it to newly created “free speech zones” like the Field of Mars, where people were permitted to gather with permission from authorities.
Any celebration of Pride over the years has been made increasingly difficult of course, following the ‘gay propaganda’ ban made law in 2013.
This year’s parade met with initial difficulty, as the policy that allows the “free speech zones” says only one event can be held each day. The Pride event was held on the same day as a World War II remembrance event, so it was initially cancelled, according to Pink News. However, low numbers at the WW2 gathering meant Pride went ahead.
Riot police stayed close by to the 100 Pride goers, and a small group of homophobic protesters – some from the WW2 event – gathered. LGBT activists attending Pride related that it had become common practice for people to create applications for fake events in an attempt to stop Pride happening. Three other Pride events at different locations were rejected due to supposed construction work, but activists claim work never took place.
Towards the end of the march, a group of nine men attacked activists and press that were present with pepper spray. Around ten people were injured. According to OVD-Info activist Anna Grabetskaya was detained for disobeying police orders while holding a banner that read “I love my wife”. The Russian LGBT Network says she faces 10 days in detention, despite footage that shows her complying with police in the area.
“Everyone has his own reason to come to the pride,” Sveta, a lesbian activist, told Moscow Times. “Many of my friends didn’t come because they were afraid to be discriminated at work, to lose their job or get expelled from university.”
2017 has been particularly tough for the LGBT community in Russia, where news broke earlier this year of the horrifying abduction and murder of dozens of gay men in Chechnya at the hands of the government.
This year has also seen small victories for LGBT activists – following complaints first filed in 2010 and 2011, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia had violated the right to assembly, after blocking previous pride parades. The court also ruled that the propaganda law was discriminatory. The government was ordered to pay the four activists 7,500 euros (around £6,900), though activist Yury Gavrikov – a co-organiser of Pride – told Moscow Times the compensation has yet to be delivered.
Keep up to date with Grabetskaya's situation and the Russian LGBT community here.
h/t Pink News