By prosecuting Russian LGTBI organizations under the new “foreign agent law” and with the recent introduction of a Russia-wide law that bans “propaganda of homosexualism”, the Russian goverment has not only made clear that it perceives the country’s queer community as one of its biggest enemies. It has also created an even stronger anti-gay and anti-trans climate in the country by giving homo- and transphobia a legal fundament, which especially hits younger queers and queers that aren’t part of a helping community hard.
I personally don’t believe in stuff like Vodka boycotts or political pressure in conjunction with Olympia 2014 as ways to change the political situation in the country – I have a feeling that these kinds of actions might target the wrong people. I’m also kind of fed up with all the petitions that reach me every day, I have a hard time believing that they will really change the mind of the people they’re addressing.
In my opinion the only way to help the Russian LGTBI community from outside the country and to enable Russian queers to still be able to raise their voice is to support their organizations and the individuals who run them directly. Financially.
Two Russian NGOs especially currently need a lot of money: Coming Out St. Petersburg and the Russian LGTB Network, both based in St. Petersburg. Coming Out especially needs financial support because they just recently have been found “guilty” before a court in St. Petersburg of operating as a “foreign agent” and were fined 500.000 rubles (which is around 15.000 dollars/12.500 Euro).
They are now collecting money on their website to pay the fine, the account details can be found here (the link on the website is unforunately broke). To find out more anout this case you can read an interview I did with the organisation’s head of communications on the website of the German Heinrich Böll Foundation.
UPDATE (July 27): Coming Out have announced on Facebook that they have managed to raise enough funds to cover the fines.
The Russian LGTB Network also faces the thread of being sued under the same law, so they are already collecting money for this likely case. On their Facebook site they also state that donated money will be used to provide activists with judicial aid at court and to keep the organization running. Their acount details aren’t published online, but you can write them an email (email@example.com) and they will send it to you.
If you don’t have the financial resources to donate right now you can also help in other ways: In another Facebook posting the Russian LGTB Network has made just recently, they emphasize that they also appreciate all sorts of supporting letters and videos:
“Letters of support are also always welcome! Especially when thinking about our activists, some of which are very young, lively and warm letters and video greetings would do wonders. We can share your greetings to our regional divisions and other LGBT organisations in Russia! Especially all video greetings that are easy to forward to the activists and ordinary Russian gays are needed. If possible, please translate the letters and subtitles in Russian.”
They are also looking for people who send them articles and videos from abroad, in which the organisation and its chairperson Igor Kochetkov are mentioned, because they are not able to keep track of everything and in all languages.
Both organizations are really doing a good job in regularly posting the latest news on their websites and Facebook sites. It’s the best alternative to the sensationalist and sometimes degrading stuff especially “Western” newspapers and blogs are publishing on the web right now.
Picture on top: Activist at the gay pride in St. Petersburg, Photo: Alliance of Straights for LGBT Equality / Coming Out St. Petersburg