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Russia Ignoring Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes, Which Have Spiked In the Wake Of Gay 'Propaganda' Ban

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Anti-LGBT violence and harassment have increased dramatically in Russia since the country passed an anti-gay "propaganda" law in June 2013, and President Vladimir Putin's government isn't doing anything to stop it, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch

RussiaReportThe report, titled "License To Harm: Violence and Harassment Against LGBT People And Activists In Russia," is based on 94 interviews with people from 16 cities and towns in Russia. 

The interviews were conducted in the leadup to and aftermath of passage of the law, which bans distribution of information about LGBT relationships to minors and "effectively legalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation," according to Human Rights Watch. 

One Russian LGBT group cited in the report found that hate crimes have increased more than ten-fold in the wake of the anti-gay law, with 300 attacks in the last year, BBC News reports. 

From Human Rights Watch

All over Russia there has been an increase in attacks by vigilante groups and individuals against LGBT people in the past two years. There has also been an increase in attacks on LGBT activists, and anti-gay groups have used the 2013 law to justify mounting campaigns of harassment and intimidation of LGBT teachers and other school or college staff to get them fired from their jobs.

Although Russian law enforcement agencies have the tools to prosecute homophobic violence, there appears to be no will to do so and no policy or instructions from the leadership to take homophobic violence seriously. Aside from several isolated investigations, the authorities have done little to hold assailants accountable.

Instead of publicly denouncing anti-LGBT violence and rhetoric, Russia’s leadership has remained silent. In some cases public officials have engaged in explicit anti-LGBT hate speech.

The report documents anti-LGBT vigilante groups that have sprung up across Russia, luring gay men and teens on the pretext of dates before viciously assaulting them and posting videos of the attacks online. It also chronicles attacks on public pro-LGBT events, including just about every one in the last year, as well as "smear campaigns" designed to force LGBT people and their supporters to resign from their jobs — most of which have been successful. 

The report finds that Russian authorities have largely overlooked anti-LGBT hate crimes, ignoring motives and failing to properly investigate, while blaming victims and not adequately protecting them from perpetrators.   

Finally, the report issues a series of recommendations to Russian authorities, which Human Rights Watch summarizes as follows: 

Three key steps Russia needs to take are: first, for its leadership to publicly condemn such violence and commit to ending and preventing it; second, for its law enforcement agencies to start investigating and prosecuting homophobic violence as hate crimes under the law; and finally, the Russian government should immediately repeal the anti-LGBT propaganda law, which implicitly condones and encourages such violence in the first place, as well as harms children by denying them access to essential information.

To read the full report, go here

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TIME Names Ebola Fighters Its Person Of The Year

Ebola

TIME Magazine has named the fighters of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa as its person of the year.

The publication's short list for finalists included:

The Ferguson Protesters

Vladimir Putin 

Massoud ­Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq

Jack Ma, Alibaba founder

Of the decision, TIME commented:

2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic, powered by the very progress that has paved roads and raised cities and lifted millions out of poverty. This time it reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it traveled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place. One August day in Liberia, six pregnant women lost their babies when hospitals couldn’t admit them for complications. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one.

Which brings us to the hero’s heart. There was little to stop the disease from spreading further. Governments weren’t equipped to respond; the World Health Organization was in denial and snarled in red tape. First responders were accused of crying wolf, even as the danger grew. But the people in the field, the special forces of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Christian medical-relief workers of Samaritan’s Purse and many others from all over the world fought side by side with local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams.

Ask what drove them and some talk about God; some about country; some about the instinct to run into the fire, not away. “If someone from America comes to help my people, and someone from Uganda,” says Iris Martor, a Liberian nurse, “then why can’t I?” Foday Gallah, an ambulance driver who survived infection, calls his immunity a holy gift. “I want to give my blood so a lot of people can be saved,” he says. “I am going to fight Ebola with all of my might.”

Vladimir-putin-illustration

TIME named as its runner up Vladimir Putin, whom the publication describes as the "increasingly isolated" President of Russia "on a mission to restore his country’s lost empire." Notably, the lengthy written profile makes no mention of Putin's gay propaganda law, his regime's broader anti-gay agenda or how it pertained to this year's Winter Olympics in Sochi. 

TIME focuses mainly on Putin's annexation of Crimea and his desire to re-assert Russia onto the world stage as a major player whom others must stand up and take notice. Indeed, Putin has tapped into a nationalist sentiment in Russia that resents its loss of power in the post-Soviet era.

As TIME points out, the power of Putin's message becomes clear when considering for instance that even Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader "who who tried to reform his country only to dismantle it in 1991," a man who was widely viewed as a noble leader of an ignoble regime, finds himself praising Putin and 'brooding' over his country's loss of power:

Russia was simply pushed aside, pushed out of politics, made to feel like some kind of backwater,” he tells TIME in the Moscow office where he once received American dignitaries as equals if not exactly friends. “In everything it was America calling the shots!” But with the conquest of Crimea, a derelict peninsula about the size of Massachusetts, Putin at last restored a scrap of Russia’s honor, says Gorbachev, by “acting on his own,” unbound by the constraints of U.S. supremacy and the table manners of international law.

It should be noted that Putin's resistance to pressure from the west on the issue of human rights and Russia's gay community fits squarely within the narrative TIME wants to tell about Putin, that of a leader that "doesn’t want to play within the system anymore,” as Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia put it. “He wants to challenge it now. He wants to prod. He wants to build relationships with others against that system, with the Chinese, Turks, maybe India. That is a longer-term challenge.” 

Watch video profiles on the Ebola fighters and Putin, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "TIME Names Ebola Fighters Its Person Of The Year" »


Vladimir Putin Denies Persecution Of Gays In Russia - VIDEO

PutinVladimir Putin has said his support for “traditional family values” will not lead to the persecution of gay people in Russia, reports ZeeNews.

In January, Putin said that Russia should cleanse itself of homosexuality.

In a state-of-the-nation address last Thursday, the Russian president said "healthy family" and traditional values were among the country’s top priorities.

However, he added that although “traditional family” is preferable, “this should not look as if we intend to persecute people of some non-traditional orientation."

Despite introducing a controversial anti-gay law last year which bans the “promotion” of homosexuality and has been seen as an excuse to crackdown on LGBT people, Putin added that criticism from other countries is merely "a label."

Watch Putin defend Russia's anti-gay laws, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Vladimir Putin Denies Persecution Of Gays In Russia - VIDEO" »


Russian State TV Uses Fake 'Gay' Clip As Evidence The U.S. Is Indoctrinating Kids With Homosexuality

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Russia's state-owned TV channiel Rossiya-1 was in full propaganda mode last Friday in a Special Correspondent news report alleging that Western society is brainwashing children with homosexuality, Vox reports:

The segment presents, as evidence, a Western grade-school biology textbook, which includes diagrams of human reproductive organs. As foreboding music plays in the background, the Rossiya-1 news anchor states that Western children are "forced to learn everything there is to know about sexual intercourse and are told to pick which gender they would like to be," according to a translation by Julia Davis.

AdThe segment then cuts to a video that it says shows a typical American family at home. A father leads his young son into his bedroom to show him a surprise: he has covered the child's bedroom wall with explicit gay pornography. The child shouts in joy at the present. The Rossiya-1 host, disgusted at the display, sternly asks, "Is it appropriate for a child's bedroom to look this way?"

The video that Rossiya-1 presents as real is of course an obvious fake, created as a joke by the users of 4chan. The video is a satirical re-cut of this much-mocked commercial by Fathead, a sports paraphernalia company. The original shows a father showing his son that he has covered his bedroom wall with a giant photo of a monster truck. 4chan users changed out the monster truck with gay pornography as a way to mock the commercial. Rossiya-1 either mistook or willfully misrepresented the satire as documentary news footage.

Considering this is the same program that blamed gays for the Chelyabinsk meteor strike last year, I'm betting it's the latter. 

Watch the clip of the segment, AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: NSFW images)

And head over to Vox here for a more in-depth breakdown of how this story is part of Russian president Vladimir Putin's larger agenda to "seal off Russia's 144 million citizens within a propaganda bubble, a world in which Putin can shape reality how he wishes."

Continue reading "Russian State TV Uses Fake 'Gay' Clip As Evidence The U.S. Is Indoctrinating Kids With Homosexuality" »


Russian Senator: Lawmaker Behind Anti-Gay Propaganda Ban Should Face Criminal Charges, Psychiatric Test

Milonov

St. Petersburg, Russia, lawmaker Vitaly Milonov (above) wants to put people in jail if they promote so-called gay propaganda. 

But a member of Russia's upper house of parliament says Milonov himself should be jailed for his extremist behavior. 

DobryninRussian Senator Konstantin Dobrynin (right) has requested both a criminal investigation and psychiatric testing of Milonov — a raging homophobe who was one of the architects of the country's anti-gay law, the St. Petersburg Times reports: 

Milonov, who is also a church sexton, has been photographed wearing a T-shirt that read "Orthodoxy or Death" — a slogan banned in Russia as extremist. He was also pictured with knives and firearms during "humanitarian missions" to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, Dobrynin wrote.

Additionally, the flamboyant lawmaker has denounced various nationalities, including Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, whom he described as "crazy goats," "pigs" and "fascist Turkish mugs," Dobrynin said.

All of this qualifies Milonov for a total of 11 criminal charges, including promoting terrorism and illegal firearms possession, the senator said. The charges carry a combined sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

It's not the first time Dobrynin has sought criminal sanctions against Milonov, but on two previous occasions the prosecutor general declined to pursue charges. according to Russia Today. Milonov responded to Dobrynin's latest request by comparing the senator to Judas: 

“For him, everything in Orthodox Christianity is extremism. I don’t want to notice this man,” the politician told RSN radio. “I cannot take this seriously. I have issued a personal spiritual ban for this man. He has probably written more reports on me than Judas had on Christ,” the news site Gazeta.ru quoted Milonov as saying.

Milonov authored the St. Petersburg measure that was used as a model for Russia's national anti-gay law — and he later called on President Vladimir Putin to enforce the law during the Sochi Olympics.  

More recently, Milonov said he was drafting a bill to close a loophole that allowed same-sex couples to marry in Russia. And after Tim Cook came out, Milonov called for the Apple CEO to be banned from Russia for life, even though he uses Apple products

In other words, he's kind of like Russia's version of Ted Cruz.


Matthew Shepard's Parents Head To Russia To Fight Anti-LGBT Intolerance: VIDEO

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The parents of Matthew Shepard are heading to hostile territory in hopes of bringing a message of tolerance to Russia. Tomorrow, Dennis and Judy depart for St. Petersburg to attend the screening of a movie about their slain son and then move on to Moscow, where they hope to meet with parents of LGBT youth. In a country where gays are consistently harassed for spreading so-called "propaganda", the Shepards hope to bring a message of tolerance on their five-day trip. But given how entrenched anti-LGBT attitudes have become under the rule of Vladimir Putin, they know it won't be easy.

“Putin has made it so unhealthy to be LGBT or an ally,” Dennis Shepard told the AP in an interview about their trip. “It will take at least a generation to clean up the mess he’s made and get some acceptance.”

Their first stop will be a screening of Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine at the Side by Side Film Festival in St. Petersburg, an annual event since 2008 which has been promoting LGBT tolerance while drawing criticism from government officials there. But filmmaker Michele Josue, who was a close friend of Matthew's in high school, feels strongly about screening her film in a hostile environment. 

"We've been preaching to the choir," she said of previous screenings in the U.S. "It's important to get our film seen by a community that didn't have access to it."

The film, which has been on the festival circuit this year, makes its NYC premiere tonight at the Doc NYC Festival. You can watch the moving trailer AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Matthew Shepard's Parents Head To Russia To Fight Anti-LGBT Intolerance: VIDEO" »


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