Masked Men Attack LGBT Organization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Injuring Two People

One man was blinded and a young woman was injured with a baseball bat in an attack on an LGBT community center in St. Petersburg, Russia over the weekend.

A press release from LaSky St. Petersburg (via the Russian LGBT Network):

At about 19.20 on Sunday, November 3, 2013 the "Rainbow Coffee" traditionally held at the community center of the project LaSky-St.Petersburg was attacked by two assailiants. They entered community center pretending to be "looking for a friend". Then one of them pulled a pneumatic gun and opened fire while the other was brandishing a baseball bat. Two persons were injured in the attack. A young man, who was shot in the face and has got a bullet stuck in his eye, was taken to the hospital. Doctors say his prognosis is not good — his injured eye will hardly be recovered. A second victim was a young lady who was injured by baseball bat.

"Rainbow Coffee" is a weekly social event for LGBT-youth and heterosexual allies aiming to support free non-judgmental communication of participants. About 25-30 people were attending the last meeting. It is not the first time when all kinds of homophobic groups in social networks pay vicious attention to the project LaSky-Saint-Petersburg providing services for HIV and other STD prevention on MSM. About a month ago several homophobic pages posted calls for actions against LaSky community center. Today's attack is a result of escalation of homophobic climate in the city. Those who foster the feelings of hatred on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity including politicians and religious leaders must be accounted for it.

This attack aimed at the office of organization for prevention of HIV and STD is an indication that pogrom-makers progressed from attacking activists during street rallies to attacks on closed private social events. Human Rights defenders of the city are following this incident with an intense attention and will press for just and fair investigation of this homophobic hate crime.

Adds activist Anastasia Smirnova:

"Pogroms are becoming a reality — now it is not migrants, but the St Petersburg office of LaSky, HIV/AIDS organization for MSM. Two masked men with traumatic guns attacked LaSky's 'rainbow' social just 40 minutes ago. The police arrived on site and left right away saying that they did not see any evidence of the crime. Two guests of the social were hospitalized.

(image from 2010 protest in St. Petersburg)


  1. MaryM says

    Any US athlete who attends Sochi and who does not loudly and vocally condemn the fascist persecution of the LGBT community in Russia must be regarded as a collaborator with fascism, and receive loud condemnation.

    Athletes who attend these games and who do not speak out deserve our contempt and condemnation for placing their personal greed and stupidity over the human rights of millions.

  2. Eric says

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we need to reframe this debate. The problem isn’t so much the laws that have been passed but the systemic encouragement of violence against LGBT Russians. Many countries have laws that discriminate against LGBT citizens. The true difference is that Russia has entered a phase where LGBT citizens are being made the scapegoats, the one minority group that they can, with impunity, beat up, torture, and kill. Putin and his government are turning society against LGBT citizens in the same way that Hitler turned Germany against the Jews in the 1930s. I’m so sick of seeing athletes and LGBT websites, including Towleroad, constantly talking about the Russian laws as if they were the problem, when what is really happening is much larger, and is mostly being ignored, except when another murder or attack is reported. But those murders and attacks aren’t because of the laws, per se, but because of the larger push to make LGBT citizens the scapegoats.

  3. MaryM says

    Agreed Eric.

    And we must hold USOC and the Olympic athletes who attend the Olympic Games to account.

    There is widespread, systematic and massive human rights abuses being inflicted on the gay community.

    That takes priority over the athletes selfish desire to win a medal.

    Silence = Death

    US Olympians who do not speak out against this law is a collaborator with fascism.

  4. Jerry says

    The Russian Orthodox Church, whose founding “saints”, Basil and John Chrysostom compared homosexuals to murderers and labeled homosexuals as “intrinsically evil” is widely believed to be behind some of these attacks on LGBTs and has never condemned the violence which is now more widely practiced in Russia.

  5. terry says

    scary as such incidents are it is the reaction or non-reaction of those with the freedom to say something but don’t that really frightens me. Looking the other way is and will never be an appropriate option.

  6. Nellie says

    If I was a Russian gay man, I’d buy a gun because only through a brutal response can the gay community survive. The police doesn’t care, so what is the point of being a victim.

    These hoodlums are nothing but cowards. Force is the only response to savages.

  7. C. Foley says

    @Eric. It’s not the laws, per se? Except that no one can say anything about these problems without the risk of it seeming or being pro-gay. As Marym says, silence = death, and the laws are silencing everyone there.

    To put it another way, the laws themselves are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, being what most of the world can see, but hiding even bigger problems underneath. But if you realize it is an iceberg, you already know there’s more to it than what first meets the eye.

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