Told to Protest in a Landfill, Russians Hold Pride Rally Anyways
By Connie Wu
The world is no stranger to Russia's anti-LGBT policies and practices, but now they're just being rude. When gay rights group Ravnopraviye (meaning "Equality") applied for a permit from authorities in St. Petersburg to hold a fifth annual pride march at the Field of Mars park, they were flat-out refused due to Russia's anti-gay propaganda law. The authorities even went so far as to mockingly suggest that the group take their event to the village of Novosyolk, next to a cemetery and a landfill site.
Undeterred by the response, Ravnopaviye went ahead and held he event anyways on Saturday, since public events can be held at the Field of Mars without a permit so long as the authorities have been notified.
"We are confident in our right to public assemblies stated in the constitution and we will insist on it by any means possible, including taking to the street in case of another groundless ban from the city authorities," said Ravnopraviye in a statement.
Arriving by subway, activists showed up at the park carrying homemade posters and dozens of large LGBT pride flags. Police accompanied the 150 protestors as they spoke about equality, HIV and AIDS, and the need for civil rights. One participant brought a torn rainbow flag that had been destroyed in the previous year's rally at the same location. Just one year ago, police had shut down the event within minutes and arrested dozens of protestors on City Hall's orders.
Fortunately, despite carrying on without permission, the pride rally this Saturday didn't face any major incidents.