Russia Hub

Jason Collins: FIFA 'Cannot' Give World Cup to Russia or Qatar, 'Period'

Former NBA player Jason Collins blasted FIFA's plans to host the upcoming 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Said Collins to BBC World Service's program Sportsworld:

Collins2"If you're a governing body like Fifa you cannot have sporting events in countries... where they have laws on the books that say that homosexuality is illegal, you just cannot give them that power. So whether it's Russia, whether it's Qatar, you cannot give them the games, period, until they change their laws or the culture so that people feel comfortable again to live their authentic life."

Added Collins:

"If you do go, know that as an athlete you have a unique platform and I hope that you're able to use that platform, that voice, to raise awareness of the LGBT community in whatever country that you're in."

Collins was the first openly gay player in the NBA. He retired in November.

Russian Police Decide Balloons Are 'Gay Propaganda,' Arrest 17 LGBT Activists In Moscow


Seventeen gay rights activists were arrested in Moscow on Sunday at a rally to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO). 

The activists had planned to release colorful balloons into the air during the flashmob demonstration, according to Reuters

Some 50 people assembled on a square outside a Moscow theater but crowd control police drove up a bus and started shoving the protesters inside before they managed to unfurl any banners or chant any slogans.

One of the organizers, Andrei Obolensky, said later that he and others were still detained at a police station, and only one of them had so far been released.

The LGBT community has come under increased pressure in Russia as President Vladimir Putin has charted a more conservative course since starting his third term in 2012.

The activists apparently were arrested under Russia's 2013 law banning so-called gay propaganda. However, a similar demonstration in St. Petersburg was allowed to go forward. The Moscow Times reports: 

Russia2The Sunday gathering at Field of Mars park in the center of the city had been approved by the authorities — despite Russia's law that bans gay "propaganda" in front of minors. Police were standing by to protect demonstrators from any opponents as well as to shield children who happened to pass by from the influence of "propaganda," Russian media reports said.

A little girl tried to approach the demonstration asking for a colorful balloon, only to be held back initially by both police officers, who warned against "propaganda," and rally organizers, who feared a "provocation," Open Russia news portal reported.

After a brief delay, however, she received a balloon, the report said.

Noticeably absent from the St. Petersburg demonstration was Valery Milonov, the anti-gay lawmaker who was the architect of the anti-gay law. Participants in the IDAHO demonstration reportedly handed out lollipops shaped like Milonov's head with notes that read, "Don't suck in St. Petersburg." 

Watch Reuters' video report on the IDAHO demonstrations in Russia here

Russia Moves to Ban Same-Sex Marriage for Trans People: VIDEO

Aleksey Zhuravlyov

Earlier this week, Russian politicians introduced draft legislation that would ban same-sex marriage, including cases involving trans people, reports Buzzfeed.

Irina ShumilovaWhile same-sex marriage is already illegal in Russia, the new law aims to close a loophole that allowed Irina Shumilova and Alyona Fursova (right) to marry in St. Petersburg last November.

Although Shumilova identifies as a transgender woman, she is still male according to her passport.

The new bill is sponsored by Aleksey Zhuravlyov (above), Dmitry Gorovtsov and Anatloy Greshnevikov who argue that the measure is necessary to protect traditional family values.

In 2013, Zhuravlev introduced a bill that would strip gay parents of their children on the grounds that homosexual parents cause "more harm than an orphanage".

In January, the country introduced a law banning transgender people from driving.

Watch a Channel 4 report on Russia’s anti-gay laws, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "Russia Moves to Ban Same-Sex Marriage for Trans People: VIDEO" »

Swedish Peacekeeping Group Trolls Putin With Underwater Neon Gay Sailor Message to Deter Russian Subs: VIDEO


A Swedish peacekeeping group has a tantalizing new way of preventing armed conflict between Russia and Sweden and it involves gay sailors. 

CNET explains:

Last October, the Swedish government sent a squadron of troops and military equipment off their shore to hunt for what was suspected to be a Russian submarine lurking under their sovereign waters. A group called the The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) is concerned that this will lead the Swedish government to beef up its military, and wants to inspire people to consider alternatives.

At the end of April, SPAS said, the group deployed a gizmo called "The Singing Sailor." It's a waterproof box holding an electroluminescent sign and a continuous wave transmitter. The sign shows a neon sailor shaking his very tight tighty-whities (which they call the white flag) back and forth, along with the message: "Welcome to Sweden, Gay Since 1944" printed in Russian and English. 1944 is the year in which Sweden decriminalized homosexuality. The box also sends out a Morse code message via sonar that says: "This way if you are gay."

RT adds:

SailorSPAS says that the Singing Sailor is part of its contribution to an ongoing hot debate on shifting the country's “military resources into development and rethinking security.”

“The purpose of the Operation The Singing Sailor is to urge the Swedish government to think in new ways instead of falling back on territorial defense, conscription and rearmament – the world doesn’t need more weapons,” SPAS said in the press release.

One of the world’s oldest peace organization that prides itself with being associated with winning the Nobel Peace Prize, simply says that “in times of unrest, love and peace across boundaries is more important than ever.”

Watch a SPAS video of The Singing Sailor's deployment, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Swedish Peacekeeping Group Trolls Putin With Underwater Neon Gay Sailor Message to Deter Russian Subs: VIDEO" »

Swedish Activists Use Gay Propaganda To Fend Off Russian Submarines: VIDEO


Last year, reports surfaced of submarines being spotted on local radar off the coast of Sweden, leading some to believe these submarines were of Russian origin and evidence of planned Russian aggression against Sweden. Russia, after all, has taken a hawkish stance against its neighbors in recent years, most recently flexing its military muscles in Crimea. It was the news of these alleged Russian submarines that led the Swedish government to increase its military spending after years of budget cuts. Now, a group of Swedish activists known as the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) have launched a campaign intended to push back against this potential increased militarization.

To ward off Russian submarines that might wander into Swedish waters, the SPAS has created the 'Singing Sailor', a neon sign they submerged at the supposed spot of the submarine sightings. A new video from the SPAS shows the the sailor in all his glory, shirtless and dancing beneath the tides of the Baltic Sea. The sign, sure to ruffle the feather of any die-hard Putin loyalist, also reads, "Welcome to Sweden. Gay since 1944" (1944 is the year that homosexuality was decriminalized in Sweden). The 'Singing Sailor' also sends out a morse code message: "This way if you're gay."

The Washington Post reports:

The video is, of course, a not-so-subtle reference to Russia's treatment of its homosexual community, and the notorious "gay propaganda" laws that have sparked protest in Russia and beyond over the past few years. One of the laws sought to prohibit the education of children about "non-traditional sexual relations."

"If there is a submarine down there and there is a crew member who hears or sees the sailor, they are welcome to join us in the Pride Parade on August 1 in Stockholm," Daniel Holking, head of fundraising and communications at SPAS, said in a statement. "In times of unrest love and peace across borders is even more important than usual."

The "singing sailor" also carries an important domestic message. SPAS hopes it will serve as a reminder to the Swedish government that there are creative ways to deal with potential threats. "There are many modern examples in the world of how conflicts can be resolved without military intervention," Anna Ek, president of SPAS, said.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Swedish Activists Use Gay Propaganda To Fend Off Russian Submarines: VIDEO" »

Homophobic Russian MP Vitaly Milonov Ordered Not To Obstruct Gay Pride March: VIDEO


Vitaly Milonov, the conservative Russian member of Parliament responsible for crafting Russia’s gay propaganda law, wanted to interfere with the gay pride parade set to take place in St. Petersburg on May Day. Thanks to St. Petersburg police authorities, he wasn’t able to. Some 90,000 pro-gay marchers took to Nevsky Prospect last Friday to gather in peaceful protest, calling for LGBTQ equality.

MilonovMilonov (right) and a group of fellow right wing conservatives attempted to organize a counter protest and block the queer marchers, claiming that they were in violation of Russia’s law banning positive depictions of gay people. Milonov included minors in his counter protest in order to argue that those marching in the pride parade were purposefully hurting the children with their presence.

Local authorities tasked with maintaining security during the gay pride parade weren’t buying Milonov’s reason for gathering and were explicit in telling them to leave. Milonov’s group was ordered to let the gay pride procession makes its way through the city unobstructed, though the crowd of bigots made sure to trail the pride marchers.

Check out footage of the St. Petersburg protests AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Homophobic Russian MP Vitaly Milonov Ordered Not To Obstruct Gay Pride March: VIDEO" »


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