Alexey Davydov, a prominent Russian gay rights activist, has died at the age of 36 after slipping into a coma brought on by kidney failure. Davydov, a diabetic, was also on dialysis.
Friends say that after an arrest in 2011 over Russians' rights to free assembly he "had his arm so severely broken that he required a month's stay in the hospital." His health problems appeared to worsen from that point on.
Writes Julia Ioffe in the New Republic:
About a month ago, I interviewed Davydov for a story on what life was like for gay Russians after Putin signed a series of strange, medieval anti-gay laws. Davydov, who spoke quickly and softly, was not interested in telling me the story of his coming out to his family and friends; he wanted to tell me what he was doing about the laws.
A month earlier, in July, he and a handful of other activists had gone to a Moscow children's library and Davydov unfurled a sign that said "Being gay is normal." He was immediately arrested and became the first person charged with violating the new law: spreading "propaganda about non-traditional sexual orientations among minors."
The plan, Davydov told me, was to force the Russian courts to take up the issue and be forced to define and grapple with a vaguely worded law.
Towleroad reported on that protest, and on one in 2007 at which Davydov and two dozen other activists were protesting Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's human rights violations against gays and lesbians. Davydov and one other activist were roughly detained.
Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev posted a message on Facebook looking for funds to cover Davydov's funeral.
Wrote Alekseev: "He made an enormous contribution to the Russian LGBT movement since 2006. He never cared about arrests and attacks. He just pursued our mutual goal! He has no relatives. He never cared about arrests and attacks. He just pursued our mutual goal! He has no relatives. He dedicated all his life to activism. He was always next to me in the worst times, including the day my flat was raided by police and prosecution just a month ago."
Among those who have donated is actress and activist Tilda Swinton.