A video produced by the Human Rights Watch organization shows just how damaging Russia’s culture of homophobia is right now.
One vigilante group in particular, Occupy Pedophilia, was focused on in the video. Masquerading as a pro-children activist group, Occupy Pedophelia identifies and assaults Russians they believe are gay. They often set up faux dates with gay men, only to berate and beat the men on film once they arrive.
HRW researcher Tanya Cooper spoke about the group's tactics and how the group masquerades as an anti-pedophelia organization to gain protection under Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.
Cooper said the group “essentially uses the pretext of protecting children, of fighting pedophilia, to harass and attack gay people.”
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"They film all these proceedings, and then post them on social networks like YouTube to humiliate the victim," Cooper said of the group’s assaults on LGBT Russians.
As Russian LGBT Network chairman Igor Kochetkov points out, Russia’s current attitude and legislation regarding homosexuality lets groups like Occupy Pedophilia assault LGBT citizens with no fear of legal retribution.
The video shows one victim of Occupy Pedophilia on his knees saying, “I’m sorry…I’m guilty.”
“Do you agree that we should kill you?” one of the vigilantes asks.
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“I suppose that’s my fate,” the victim answers.
Stories like this, several of which are featured in the video, continue to pour in from across Russia. Through a personal story, one activist summed up Russian law enforcement’s reaction to assaults on gay people.
“When I went to police to submit a claim, the officers at the station just said ‘That’s all right, you’re gay, so it’s normal that you were attacked,'" the activist said. "'Why would you need to submit a complaint against someone?’”
Here is HRW's video:
As HRW points out, Russia has seen an increase in violence towards LGBT residents in direct correlation with the passing of the federal law forbidding “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.”
While the bill does not explicitly say what “nontraditional” means, the term is a colloquial one used in Russian to mean "gay."
“The discriminatory impact of the anti-LGBT law and hateful language on state television have created a climate of intolerance against the Russian LGBT community,” Cooper said. “Russian leaders should denounce, not feed, homophobic hysteria, or the Kremlin’s silence will be taken as condoning the violence.”