On Saturday, police in St. Petersburg, Russia arrested all 60 participants in a gay pride parade. Many of them were badly beaten by anti-gay counter-protesters, who threw eggs, smoke flares, and stones. Among those arrest were five same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses on Friday in a historic legal move.
St. Petersburg has had a law banning gay “propaganda” since last year, which effectively censors all pro-gay advocacy and even the very public display of gay life. This weekend, President Vladimir Putin signed into law such a measure that will affect the entire country. Putin has claimed that the law does not impose any sanctions or discrimination against gay people, but is designed to protect children. How censoring an entire population from advocating for itself because of stigmatic stereotypes about harm to children is not discrimination is unclear.
The increasing homophobia in Russia raises serious concerns about athletes’ safety at the 2014 Olympics, to be held in Sochi, Russia.
Watch a video of this weekend’s violent protests or see more photos of the arrests: