back to top

London Joins Global Protest Against Russia's Anti-LGBT Law

Thirty-three cities joined in a day of action against Russia's recent legislation. One prominent Labour MP had a message for the British prime minister.

Posted on

Thirty-three cities in 30 countries around the world coordinated events in solidarity with Russian LGBT people persecuted by a law recently introduced forbidding "gay propaganda". The protest was organised, in collaboration with the All Out organisation to ramp up awareness ahead of the summit of G20 leaders in St. Petersburg this week. Demonstrators aimed to press their leaders into putting pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin. The UK leg assembled at 5pm GMT outside the prime minister's Downing Street residence.

"My name is Chris Bryant and I am a Labour MP and I also happen to be gay. And can I just say that a country like Russia that has a proud history, a very proud, long history, a graceful history, should not be doing what it is doing today," the openly gay Shadow Minister for Borders and Immigration told the crowd by megaphone. "It signed up for the European Convention On Human Rights and yet it's said that there will be no Pride marches in Russia for 100 years. That's wrong. It says that you shouldn't be able to promote homosexuality in Russia, that's wrong."

He also had a cheeky message for President Putin.

And can I just say to Mr Putin that every time he postures with his shirt off again, people might start thing that he's promoting homosexuality.

In addition to backing a boycott on Russian vodka in UK gay bars, Bryant went on praise the prime minister's record on equality — while issuing him a warning.

"I will say one thing for David Cameron, that he did bring forward nearly equal marriage in this country, and he said he wants to export it around the world. Well the country he can start it in is Russia," he told the crowd. "They all make such a [fuss over how] Russia should be able to manage its own affairs, why should the west tell Russia what to do. I say very simply, Russia signed European Convention On Human Rights. Why on Earth do British MPs vote against the Human Rights Report condemning Russia's gross abuses of human rights earlier this year. They should be ashamed of themselves."

Tatchell called for G20 world leaders "to issue a joint communiqué defending LGBT rights and human rights in every country in the world including Russia."

After the events, he added that "we live in expectation and hope" that the message of the day would get through to Cameron.

"Thanks to all of you for coming to tonight and being the witness of solidarity for LGBT rights and presenting the message for LGBT rights while the world is watching," he said. "We won't sit back while LGBT people are persecuted. We won't sit back while Russian citizens of any sexual orientation are denied their right to freedom expression. We stand together with all Russian people in defence of democracy and human rights."

Andre Banks, executive director of All Out, declared the day a success.

He said: "The call for Putin to stop his anti-gay and anti-Russian crackdown has gone global. Organizers in at least 33 cities and 21 countries have gathered today to speak out ahead of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg to make this one of the largest global demonstrations for gay rights and human rights in history."

Banks continued: "Putin is breaking the law. The anti-gay laws violate Russia's own constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Declaration on Human Rights. People from around the world and their leaders are obligated to demand accountability. If we allow Putin to undermine basic freedoms for gay and lesbian Russians, we accept the destruction of these freedoms for all Russians - gay and straight. Putin is bound by law to protect human rights for every

Russian citizen."