Russia: Gay pride march organiser beaten after city announces ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The capital city of the Komi Republic in Russia has announced its ban on a planned gay pride parade, due to take place on 31 March. The event’s organiser has been beaten – police have not taken action against the perpetrator.

Authorities of the Syktyvkar city administration said they banned the event in response to “requests from the city’s religious and public organisations not to allow public events promoting homosexual values.”

They added that Syktyvkar’s Mayor Ivan Pozdeyev has requested that city lawmakers prepare a draft law banning any similar events from taking place in the future.

Organisers of the pride march say they intend to go ahead with the event despite having received death threats from right-wing and religious anti-gay groups. Although not allowed to take place in city centre, the march will be held in a park in the outskirts away from the public.

On the same day as the cancellation, the gay pride organiser and chair of the local LGBT group, Artem Kalinin, was physically attacked by the leader of a neo-Nazi group in Syktyvkar.

In front of journalists – who caught the attack on camera – Alex Kolegov beat Kalinin. This worsened when gay activist Kalinin called Kolegov a ‘Nazi.’

However, Kalinin is not deterred by the attack.

“This incident will not change my decision” said Kalinin. “We are going to hold pride in spite of everything.”

He and several witnesses reported the attack and death threats, but the police made no arrest.

Nikolai Alekseev, co-founder of Moscow Pride and GayRussia, has condemned the attack:“This is another proof of full disregard of Russian authorities of the European Court verdict in the case of Moscow Prides by Russian authorities.”

The Russian State Duma voted 388-1 to pass a bill that would ban pride events in Russia on 25 January. It will return for a second reading later this year.

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