Russian’s crackdown on gay rights protest are exposed by media around the world through social media, and that has changed my perception of gay people…
When I came back to the U.S. from China this past summer, I had to change plane in Russia multiple times. My experience in Russia was depressing to say the least, no one speaks English and the atmosphere was utterly morbid. During the 30+ hours trip I didn’t speak to anyone except for my mum on Skype. I didn’t feel welcomed and nothing I saw suggests Russia is a country enshrined with vibrancy. But with the opening of Sochi Winter Olympics, there are things on the news that disappoints me more about Russia.
In June 2013, President Putin signed the “Anti-gay propaganda law” banning the “propaganda of non-traditional relationships” to minors. This law has received international condemnation and calls for the boycott of the Winter Olympics Game in Sochi. However, the Russian authority was unimpressed. According to an article by AP last week, Russian police arrested four gay rights activists protesting in St. Petersburg on the opening day of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Here is a link to the photo essay documenting the police crackdown on gay rights protest in Russia.
Not only are gay rights protested being violently suppressed, daily revenues for gay people are also threatened by the police and anti-gay activists. Central Station, which is Russia’s biggest gay nightclub, has been subjected to “shooting, water and gas attacks, and vandalism” since the uproar of anti-gay sentiment inflamed by the anti-gay propaganda law, according to an article by ABC news.
Russia doesn’t have a good record of gay rights. However, the Winter Olympics shed light of Russia’s reality to the rest of the world. Social media and news agency has played a huge role in exposing these atrocities. I would not have learnt about these horrendous oppression if not for these compelling stories. These are some of the tweets:
10 arrested in Moscow’s Red Square for waving rainbow flags. http://t.co/Wq7D5fze7x
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) February 7, 2014
Activists claim 4 gay rights activists detained by police in St. Petersburg, Russia, for an Olympic-themed protest. Via @KiritRadia
— PzFeed Top News (@PzFeed) February 7, 2014
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 7, 2014
Russia Declares Discrimination Newest Olympic Sport. Gay rights are human rights!SHARE THIS VIDEO END DISCRIMINATION http://t.co/0P7sF8k78U
— Victor Weir-Voronov (@Vweirvoronov) February 6, 2014
— GuardianUS (@GuardianUS) February 6, 2014
— Jackie (@Jackie_Jackie) February 6, 2014
— Noah Antwiler (@TheSpoonyOne) February 5, 2014
Personally I am not an activist for promoting homosexuality, but I do believe all people deserve equal respect regardless of their physical attributes and their life choices. Any form of verbal discrimination or physical abuse is unacceptable. It gets even more repulsive to see these acts of violence are sanctioned by Russian authority and justified in law. It hurts to know gay people in Russia have to act straight in public to survive because they were too intimidated. No one deserves to be treated with these kind of sheer hatred when they have done nothing to harm the public.
Should I thank Sochi Olympics for enlightening us on the poor human rights condition in Russia? I don’t know. But I do thank social media and news website for bringing these stories to life and spreading awareness.