By Alexei Lakhov
Every year, on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia #IDAHOT is held. It is a day when people of different cultures and genders can get together and reach out to one another, not judging each other by their sexual orientation. However, in Russia this day can be marred by violence.
A picket against same-sex liaisons is planned in Chelyabinsk on May 17. Up to 300 people may participate in this event that threatens to turn violent against the local LGBT-community.
In Habarovsk, around 100 people are going to attend a flash-mob dedicated to IDAHOT. However the organizer of this event, LGBT-activist Alexander Yermoshkin, has reportedly received several threats in relation to this flash-mob. Also, Yermoshkin has had to ask the city administration to provide the participants of the event with medical help, if needed.
Needless to say, the anti-gay law against the “promotion of homosexuality among adolescents” affects the response against HIV. Whilst HIV infection rates are dropping throughout the world they are on the rise in Russia.
“Certainly, such laws don’t help to stop the spread of HIV epidemic in Russia”, – says Yulia Godunova, the Executive Director of the women’s network “E.V.A.” Its mission is to improve the quality of life for women and their families affected by HIV and other socially significant diseases in the Russian Federation. – “Quite the contrary: it can become one of the contributing factors because homophobia nurtures violence and violence leads to more HIV cases”.
Of course, there are members of “E.V.A.” who belong to the LGBT-community. Some of them declare themselves as being openly gay; others don’t want to talk about it in the open for fear of discrimination and violence.
“We try not to focus on sexual orientation at all”, – adds Yulia Godunova. – “HIV doesn’t differ between cultures, genders and orientations. We try to help as many women and members of their families as we can, not asking about their gender identities or sexuality”.
This #May17IDAHOT protect LGBT expression in Russia and beyond. End intimidation and violence #nosilence Join the Thunderclap here and add your voice to the global chorus!
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