Last month, Sergey Kondrashov was arrested under the new law in St Petersburg that prohibits “homosexual propaganda” – in other words anything considered pro-LGBT. Kondrashov merely held up a sign that stated, “A dear family friend is lesbian. My wife and I love and respect her … and her family is just as equal as ours”. (Read more in the article ‘St Petersburg anti-gay law wielded’). Yesterday, at a May Day Rally, Russian police arrested seventeen activists who unfurled rainbow flags.
This law is an abuse of state power, and a disturbing demonstration of the power of the Orthodox church, the influence of which has been on the rise as Vladimir Putin’s has been on the decline. St Petersburg has been a serious testing ground for the law, which is no doubt why the crackdown is so public. Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s third largest city, passed a similar law last week, and is the fifth city to do so. Plans to implement it at the federal level are under discussion.
The law is an expression of how anti-West feeling in Russia is being used to create scapegoats. Before the law was it passed it looked to be a scare tactic, but now it is being put to use its implications are far more threatening. Each arrest is a blow in the struggle for equal rights.