WHAT IS GENOCIDE? Worldwide slavery, internment and work camps, slave labor, concentration and death camps. Sex trafficking and worldwide sexual slavery. Not since the Holocaust has there been so many "little schools" and concentration camps in outlying areas of the world. In Alaska, there's a place near railroads where jobs for the military "were" planned for a million bed mental facility. Be serious about opposing things; join us if you can!
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Sunday, March 22, 2015
Gay Rights in Russia, where they fear you being Gay
Putin's state has allowed violence against the Russian LGBT community to spike. By NORA FITZGERALD March 22, 2015
Moscow’s first gay pride parade was held in May 2006, thirteen years after homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia. It was supposed to be a joyous occasion, the beginning of a new era of openness for the LGBT community.
It didn't quite work out that way. LGBT marchers that day clashed with riot police, who tried to stop the event. “We disturbed something very deeply rooted in Russian society, some very evil power of intolerance and violence,” says Nikolai Baev, a prominent LGBT rights activist who attended the march.
Only a few months later, Russia saw its first regional anti-gay law passed in Ryazan, 200 miles east of Moscow. It was the first official sign that the Russian authorities would resist the LGBT movement—a resistance that has grown and become increasingly violent as LGBT activism has grown over the last decade.
That violence hit Dmitry Chizhevsky in November 2013 when he attended a weekly meeting for the LGBT community and friends called the Rainbow Tea Party in Saint Petersburg. “It was a place to socialize, drink some tea and play some games,” Chizhevsky says. It wasn’t a political event, and Chizhevsky wasn’t much for protests.
The old town had a hectic feeling that weekend as the 10th Annual March Against Hatred took place in the city’s gracious main streets. The next day, on November 3, the tea party was more crowded than usual.
“I saw two guys next to the door wearing masks,” Chizhevsky recalls. “After that I heard shots. The first one hit my eye. They yelled, ‘Where will you run, faggot?’ and one hit me several times with a baseball bat. Then the attackers ran away. One of the small balls [from a pneumatic pistol] stayed behind my eye.” The police ran a rather lackluster investigation and no one was ever arrested.
He became an unsolved statistic—just one of a growing number in Russia’s LGBT community who’ve been attacked or harassed in what has become an unprecedented crackdown. In most of the West, gay rights has seen startling breakthroughs in the last decade. Russia has not just been left behind, but has become demonstrably worse and more dangerous, according to more than two dozen individuals we spoke with in five Russian cities over six weeks of reporting. On the local and national level, a series of so-called anti-gay propaganda laws were passed that made it illegal to discuss LGBT themes with minors or to distribute such information to them, even if it dealt with health issues.
In a country that increasingly punishes the “other” and where violence against select groups and individuals is often tolerated—and even encouraged—by the state, there’s become no greater target than being LGBT. A community that was just beginning to organize found itself under assault, the target of a deep-seated Russian homophobia that had now been embedded in law.
And for Chizhevsky, although he thought about staying in his native land, the price of being gay in Russia was ultimately just too high. Like more and more gays and lesbians over the last two years, Chizhevsky had had enough of Russia, a place where his sexual orientation alone seemed to make him an enemy of the state.
“Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about it,” Chizhevsky says about the trauma of that day. “I feel that I have gotten used to it over the past year. I am thinking more about the opportunities ahead and the future I want to build” in the United States. In July 2014, a little more than six months after the attack, Chizhevsky arrived in New York.
A self-educated software developer, Chizhevsky made his way to Washington, D.C., where he discovered an LGBT community that was out and open and living without fear. Chizhevsky decided to try to make a life here and to seek political asylum in the United States.
He was one of many Russian gays and lesbians to make that trek. U.S. asylum applications from Russians rose 15 percent overall in 2014, when there were 969 new cases. The U.S. government does not release the reasons people seek asylum, but asylum seekers like Chizhevsky say the spike is at least in part a result of the crackdown on the LGBT community.
“Everyone says that my case is not very difficult because it has been so well documented,” Chizhevsky says over coffee at Busboys and Poets on 14th Street in Northwest D.C. “Even the United Nations asked Russia about my case”—a fairly typical part of the process since asylum seekers need to prove that they are in danger at home.
Despite the trauma, Chizhevsky is one of the lucky ones. LGBT activists interviewed in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan and Archangelsk say there is a pitched level of anxiety for those who stay behind. “All of a sudden, people started calling us Sodomites,” says Tatiana Vinnitchenko, 41, a lesbian activist with a group called “Rakurs” (Perspective). Rakurs is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that provided legal advice and community centers for the LGBT community in Arkhangelsk, which lies some 600 miles from Moscow and is the site of Russia’s first major seaport.
Vinnitchenko says she expects to be fired this month from her job as a professor at Northern Arctic Federal University because of her activism. A Russian language instructor, Vinnitchenko says she’s been given an ultimatum: “I had to leave my job or stop my activities in Rakurs.” Leonid Shestakov, the acting rector at the university, says there have been “conversations of a personal nature held with Vinnitchenko,” but focused only on the performance of her duties.
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