Putin’s LGBT Pogrom: Hunted And The Horror of Vladimir’s Anti-Gay Crusade
THE Russian man who told me about the police who burned him with cigarettes, broke his phone and extorted money wasn’t poor. That’s why he was telling me in the hipster comfort of an East London drinking den, the temporary home of the Silicon Drinkabout tech networking event. He wasn’t poor. That’s why, he said, his family could make the leap from Moscow to the Czech Republic. That’s why he’s now a Czech citizen, able to live and work in the UK and free from the village where the police sold meth and ignored a dead man on the stairs of his apartment block.
I was thinking about that guy as I watched Hunted, Dispatches’s unflinching film on the sickening treatment of Russia’s LBGT community. The title was apposite. Gay people are hunted in Russia now, the scapegoats for a government struggling to keep the economy afloat and the people angry at other things. The Dispatches team took big risks themselves, gaining access to one of the self-styled vigilante groups who uphold the government’s ‘propaganda’ law and roam Russia’s streets in packs looking out for LBGT people to maim, torture and abuse. If you doubt it happens, try searching YouTube.
The Russian hate mobs call their malevolent missions “going on safari”. Their actions are supported by many in Russia and given both tacit and explicit support by the church, state and legislators. One priest interviewed by the film makers sneered: “I just consider [gay people] spiritually and morally ill. Even cattle don’t engage in this.” He was far from the most extreme voice in the documentary. The rage-filled street thugs used the words “homosexual” and “paedophile” interchangeably.
The actions of the gangs are matched in their brutality by legislative abuse with the Russian parliament currently pushing through laws to allow children to be taken from gay couples. Many hundreds of attacks have taken place since the law passed. One incident caught on video and included in the documentary saw a man forced naked into a bath, handed a sex toy and then drenched in urine. Another saw a man with a gun placed to his head forced to anally rape himself with a bottle.
The two groups at the heart of the film – Parents for Russian and Occupy Paedophilia – were so confident in the protection of the state that they lured a victim back to an apartment during the filming. You get a clear sense that it is only the unblinking eye of the camera that prevents the incident becoming all out torture.
As Alan Davis presents a comedy show on the winter olympics for BBC 2 and other broadcasters speak of the achievements of our athletes alongside jokes about the barebones soviet conditions in their hotels, it’s worth remembering this Dispatches. Putin is on the cusp of pushing for an all out pogrom of LGBT people. It is ‘the gays’ as the hate groups would have it are Russia’s latest disposable minority, a political distraction that can be liquidated.
The Russian LGBT people interviewed in the documentary agreed with the gay Russian teen I interviewed last year: a boycott is the last thing they want. If the international community was to stay away in droves it would be the gay community that received the blame for the economic failure and international embarrassment.
It is despicable that the corrupt mandarins of the International Olympic Committee awarded the Winter Olympics to Sochi but now it is there the best thing that can come out of the situation is that the west becomes ever more aware of perilous nature of the situation Russia’s gay community faces and how dangerous it will continue to be.Winter Olympics tragedy used to mean Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards glasses or an unfortunate incident on the luge. This time it’s very different: if Putin could, he’d wipe them all out.