Germany: Drag queen campaigner sews mouth shut over Russian anti-gay laws

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An online video has made the rounds recently, depicting a German drag queen sewing up her mouth in protest of the controversial anti-gay laws and violence in Russia.

Barbie Breakout is best known for her DJ work in Berlin nightclubs, but her recent online campaign has criticised the German government for not taking a stand against the recent anti-gay “propaganda” law passed in Russia.

In the video, she can be seen piercing a threaded needle through her lips while she remains mute and staring at the camera. With each thread, she pulls the cotton end tight, and gradually seals her whole mouth shut.

During this ordeal, blood flows from the campaigner’s wounds, and although she manages to keep a straight face throughout, by the end she is visibly in pain.

The second part of the video is an off-screen commentary criticising Germany for not opposing the anti-gay “propaganda” laws in Russia.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.

Four Dutch tourists shooting a film about gay rights in Russia were arrested last month, the first foreigners to be detained under the new law.

Although Breakout Barbie has no personal affiliation to Russia, she told Die Welt newspaper she felt deeply affected by the widespread violence against gay people in the country.

She said: “The pain I felt inside when I had to see in the media what is happening in Russia was greater than the physical pain of the needle. My partner held the camera while I did it. But he couldn’t look.

“In my youth I had more holes in an ear than through my mouth in this performance. Apart from a small bruise on my left upper lip, everything has healed up again. It was about symbolism, not about self-harm.”

She said she hoped people would become more aware of the situation in Russia, and would take direct action wherever possible.

She added: “I hope that people for example, will buy fewer Russian products. And give the 2014 Olympics in Russia particular attention. Companies such as Coca Cola and McDonald’s are right at the front as supporters with advertising.

“Perhaps we could talk to the consciences of these important companies via a boycott or many letters of protest. Such a government cannot be supported.”

Last month, Dan Savage also initiated a campaign to “dump Russian vodka” in which he urged campaigners to curb both the buying and selling of well-known Russian brands.

Back in June, Germany’s foreign minister heavily criticised Russia’s legislation banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples.

He said: ”I cannot hide that I am concerned about this development in Russia and (these) domestic discussions about discrimination of sexual minorities in Russia.

“We think any kind of discrimination of sexual minorities, gays or lesbian for example, [is] not acceptable”.

Last week, speaking exclusively to PinkNews, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged Russia to protect the rights of LGBT citizens following concerns about gay athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Winter Olympics.

He said: “Those days should be long behind us now and for those countries and those governments and regimes who don’t see it that way I think they have to move with the times.”