Reports are coming in from Russia suggesting that a number of campaigners for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people's rights have found themselves excluded from the country's pro-democracy campaigns.
In addition, Russian police are reported to be particularly keen to target LGBT rights activists participating in demonstrations calling for fresh elections.
As a result, groups including Gay Russia and the Organising Committee of Moscow Pride say they have decided not to officially endorse the pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow. Nikolai Alekseev, chair of Gay Russia, has accused the demonstration's organisers of being “not any better than the current Russian government with regards to LGBT rights”.
Over 120,000 people took part in one Moscow protest alone on Christmas Eve, along with thousands more in other Russian cities and on other days. They want elections re-run as they believe they were not free and fair. Many are also demanding that Vladimir Putin leave office as Prime Minister and withdraw from elections for the next president.
But Gay Star News reported today (30 December) that several sources have now confirmed the exclusion of leading LGBT activists from involvement in the campaign.
Boris Nemtsov, a leading Russian opposition activist, was overheard using homophobic insults and attacking the presence of gay and lesbian people on pro-democracy demonstrations. The conversation has been leaked to the press.
Gay Star News also reports that police intercepted activists in the city of Lipetsk who tried to join in a protest with a banner reading “gays and lesbians for fair elections”. The police told them the banner was not allowed because it was not “in accordance” with the aim of the event.
Alekseev said, “I find it completely outrageous that the incidents happened during the opposition rallies and then not a single high-ranking organiser of these events denounced these attacks and harassment of LGBT people”.
British-based human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who was badly beaten by right-wing Russians while supporting Moscow Pride in 2007, described the situation as “shameful”.
Tatchell said that many of the opposition activists are not committed to universal human rights. “They are Putin-lite," he said, "They want to moderate the Kremlin regime, rather than change it".