Parents of murdered gay man Matthew Shepard to speak in Russia

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The parents of murdered gay man Matthew Shepard have travelled to Russia to speak to the local gay community.

Judy and Dennis Shepard are heading to the country – which criminalises the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality – to attend an LGBT film festival in St Petersburg honouring their son, who was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998.

They will travel alongside Michele Josue – a former classmate of Matthew Shepard’ who directed the film ‘Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine’.

In addition to St Petersburg, the Shepards will also travel to Moscow, where they are hoping to meet with members of the gay community, and with parents who have gay children.

Judy Shepard said: “This is about families loving their kids, no matter who they are. If families would recognize that, everyone else would recognize it.”

“[I’d like to ask them] ‘What if your baby was gay? If your child turns out that way, are you just going to throw them away?'”

Dennis Shepard added: “Putin has made it so unhealthy to be LGBT or an ally.

“It will take at least a generation to clean up the mess he’s made and get some acceptance.”

Ms Josue said: “[So far] we’ve been preaching to the choir.

“It’s important to get our film seen by a community that didn’t have access to it.”

A recent book claimed that Matthew Shepard actually died as part of a drug deal gone bad – but it has been strongly criticized for factual inaccuracies, and has been refuted by the family and everyone involved in the case.