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Russian Week Against Homophobia

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The Russian LGBT Network has announced that this week is the fifth annual Russian Week Against Homophobia.  Unfortunate timing, then, for United Russia and five of Russia’s other, major registered political parties to have shunned a round table discussion on homophobia held in Moscow by gay rights activists yesterday.  Acknowledging the depth of this problem in Russia (Moscow’s very own former Mayor Yury Luzhkov outrageously called gay pride parades ‘satanic‘ last year), the Council of Europe says it is working on a rights paper that will include a section on gay rights in a bid to pressure Russia to improve its record – but the movement retains scant support in the country. 
Which is why grassroots work like that of St. Petersburg-born lesbian activist Polina Savchenko is so important.  In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Savchenko talks about her work as the head of Vykhod, an organization working for gay rights, including an annual International Queer Culture Festival attracting ‘thousands‘ every year, and explains some of the differences between gay communities at home and abroad.

“No, no neighborhood would be specifically a gay neighborhood in St. Petersburg. The cultural gay and lesbian life is very developed I think. There is a lot of things to do,” Polina Savchenko told the Bay Area Reporter in a phone interview last week. “There is a very rich culture but very much underground.”

[…] One poll conducted last March among 2,000 Russians found that only 11 percent of respondents personally knew a gay or lesbian person. Another study conducted by the Russian LGBT Network surveyed 341 lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the four cities – St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Tyumen, and Arkhangelsk – and found that 92.1 percent concealed their sexual orientation from society.
Read the full article here