Activists Charged with Illegal Display of Rainbow Suspenders
St. Petersburg, Russia
Today 17 activists were arrested for displaying rainbow flags and other rainbow insignia during the Russian May Day march. LGBT activists made up part of the democratic section of the march, which included over 400 people and represented a number of democratic and human rights groups of St. Petersburg.
Activists displaying rainbow insignia (flags, pins, suspenders), and those carrying signs against homophobia were selectively pulled out of the march and taken to the closest police stations. Claimed reason for detention: propaganda of homosexuality.
After 7 hours of detention, activists were not charged with “propaganda”, but with articles of St. Petersburg administrative code 19.3 (non-compliance with police requests) and 20.2 (participation in illegal demonstration) and released.
From the detention protocol:
“…during demonstration, detainee displayed rainbow flags, rainbow suspenders. Listed insignia did not have prior authorization, thereby constituting a violation of regulations for carrying out public demonstrations…”
“The fact that only LGBT rights supporters were detained today is proof the law is working perfectly as it was intended. Its goal is to stop any public LGBT rights activity,” says Polina Savchenko, head of LGBT organization Coming Out. Police will use the “propaganda” argument to stop any action and detain its participants. The subsequent court hearings and judgments are immaterial.”
LGBT organization Coming Out will continue to provide legal support to the victims of homophobic legislation.
On March 30 “homosexual propaganda” law went into effect in St. Petersburg, imposing administrative fines on the so-called “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism, and pedophilia” to minors. On April 7th activists were arrested for holding signs “no to silencing of hate crimes against gays and lesbians” and “our family friend is a lesbian, her family is socially equal to ours” and charged with propaganda and non-compliance with police. One activist was found guilty of non-compliance, but the propaganda charge was ignored by the court. As of today, there have been no convictions by the court under this law in St. Petersburg.
When asked, Russian authorities stated numerous times that the “propaganda law” was intended only to protect minors and not for limiting LGBT human rights activity.