Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Ra-Ra-Ras-Putin!



On a gorgeous sunny evening yesterday, Paul, little Tony, Jim and I joined hundreds of people opposite 10 Downing Street in Whitehall for what was a truly global event - the protest against Russia's anti-LGBT legislation ahead of the G20 summit in St Petersburg on 5th and 6th September.

Officially titled Speak Out for Russia, identical demonstrations were coordinated across the world, in cities as far-flung as Stockholm, Budapest, Madrid, Vancouver, Mexico City, Reykjavik, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Sydney and many more, with the aim of persuading world leaders to challenge Vladimir Putin's increasingly right-wing agenda.

We chanted, we clapped, we admired the many and various banners and slogans - "To Russia With Love", "Love Russia; Hate Homophobia", "We Ain't Putin Up With This", "Love Always Wins" - and we cheered the speakers who addressed the throng.



Among these were out-gay MP Chris Bryant (who criticised the Russian government as "immoral" for not condemning violence against its own gay people, especially as it is a signatory of the European Declaration on Human Rights).




Also supporting the protest, we were overjoyed at the appearance of "national treasure", radio and TV star (and alter-ego of Miss Lily Savage) Paul O'Grady!



Of course our hero Peter Tatchell - praised by all concerned as "the man who has done more for human rights in the past several decades than anyone" - was central to the event, and spoke of his pride to be part of such a massive show of support.

As he reminded the crowd:
"This June, president Putin signed legislation that effectively bans positive debate or portrayal of LGBT people and relationships.

"Putin’s regime has banned all protests in the city of Sochi in the run up to the Winter Olympics. It has also banned the hosting of a Gay Pride House at the Sochi Games.

"Gay athletes and spectators attending the Winter Olympics held in Sochi in 2014 could potentially face fines or jail sentences for affirming their support for LGBT equality.

"There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal authoritarian regime like Putin's Russia. The attack on the LGBT community is one fragment of a much wider attack on human rights in Russia. It is important to encourage an alliance between LGBT and straight Russians to defend freedom of expression for all the people of Russia.

"LGBT people need allies to win and all Russians who love democracy and human rights deserve our support."

In response to the growing world protests, David Cameron is reportedly going to challenge Vladimir Putin on Russia’s anti-gay laws at the G8 summit. Mr Tatchell was pleased at the news:
"This is a welcome commitment by David Cameron showing he’s listened to our concerns.

"We hope that other G20 world leaders will also challenge Putin over Russia’s anti-gay law.

"Today’s protest goes ahead to send the signal to Russian LGBT people that we stand with them in solidarity.

"We also want to let Putin to know that London deplores his government’s homophobia and demands the repeal of anti-gay legislation."
We all deplore it. I was proud to be there to add my voice.

Let's hope the mass protests and political pressure will lead to some glimmer of change...




And an appropriate song to end with, courtesy of Mr Matt Munro:


AllOut, one of the organisations that co-ordinated the global protests.

Peter Tatchell Foundation

Foreign Secretary William Hague has spoken out against anti-gay laws in Russia today.

7 comments:

  1. Thrilled to see that the pressure on Russian officials is becoming more and more visible all over the world!

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    1. Did you manage to get to the Rekjavik protest? Jx

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    2. Sadly I had to study for a final that I took this morning. My thoughts were there though! Glad to see you made it :)

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  2. I really wanted to hear you chant "Lover of the Russian Queen!"

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    1. There were plenty of them there to choose from... (Russian queens, that is!)

      Jx

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  3. It is a good feeling to go along and support something we believe in - it's good for the soul and the presence of people like Paul O'Grady hopefully keep the attention of the press.

    I think the demo will be well reported in the gay press : QX magazine were behind yesterday's London protest but I'm disappointed that the national press still haven't featured the demos and the violence that has been taking place in Russia

    Good to see yo, Paul & Jim xx

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    1. There has been very little in the way of actual press coverage so far, I am sorry to say, but we'll see what the gay press make of it tomorrow. However, it seems William Hague was watching - as evidenced by his statement (see link at the end of the blog). So it has had some kind of desired impact.

      Good to see you there, too! Have a great holiday, dear. Jx

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