Seattle to rally in support of Russia’s LGBT Community

LGBT Activists at a September 2012 anti-Putin rally in Moscow. Photo by Sarah Stuteville.

Tonight Seattle joins a growing group of cities hosting rallies in support of Russia’s LGBT community.

On June 30th, Russia passed a law essentially making it illegal to say to a minor that gay relationships are as good as straight ones. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia back in 1993, but the new law protecting minors from “homosexual propaganda” makes living legally – and especially raising a family – as an openly gay person nearly impossible.

Memes mocking Russian President Vladimir Putin, like this one on a sign in Moscow, are reminiscent of parodies of US politicians. (Photo by Sarah Stuteville)
Memes mocking Russian President Vladimir Putin, like this one on a sign in Moscow, are reminiscent of parodies of US politicians. (Photo by Sarah Stuteville)

Olya Kurachyova, a Russian human rights advocate, spoke with The Seattle Globalist in Moscow last summer. Through a translator she explained, “basically if you say — in any article or in any public space where there could be kids present — that being gay is normal, you could technically be fined.”

Gay pride marches are out, but so is interviewing a seventeen year old about homosexuality. Many have suggested that the law puts gay parents at risk for arrest or fines: technically, gay and lesbian parents must teach their children that their family is not as good as a straight-headed family, in order to stay within the confines of the law.

But Kurachyova was determined to stay in Moscow and raise children with her  partner, who she refers to as her wife despite the fact that they have not been able to legally marry. “We don’t want to leave the city we love because we have a homophobic city council,” she said.

In response to the law’s passage, Americans have launched boycotts showing their support for Russia’s LGBT community. Several gay bars across the US have launched a boycott of Stolichnaya Vodka. As Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, some activists are pushing LGBT athletes to boycott the games.

But Sarah Toce, founder and editor in chief of The Seattle Lesbian and vice president of LGBTQ advocacy group Social Outreach Seattle, doesn’t think boycotts are the way to go. “I get boycotts but I also feel like I don’t want it to take away from what’s really going on,” she said.

Toce is planning a protest at Seattle Central Community College tonight, which she hopes will “raise awareness, unite the community, [offer] suggestions on what people can do to help, and [increase] visibility.”

She hopes that visibility will reach all the way to Moscow. After the protest she plans to deliver images and video from the rally to the Russian consulate in Seattle. “Even though we are far away we can help people in Russia.”


Where: Seattle Central Community College, 1701 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122
When: Friday August 2nd 6-7 pm
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