Peter Tatchell arrested Russia Worldcup Gay Protests

Russian police briefly detained veteran British campaigner Peter Tatchell in Moscow on Thursday after he attempted to hold a one-man protest near the Kremlin in support of gay rights on the first day of the World Cup.

 

In 2007, activist Peter Tatchell was beaten so brutally by Russian neo-Nazis shouting “death to all homosexuals” that he suffered brain damage and permanently lost sight in his right eye.

He was punched in the face and nearly knocked unconscious, while other demonstrators were beaten, kicked and assaulted. A German MP, Volker Beck, and a European Parliament deputy from Italy, Marco Cappato, were also punched before being arrested and questioned by police.

Tatchell later said “I’m not deterred one iota from coming back to protest in Moscow.” and 11 years later, the brae activist kept his promise and returned to perform a one person protest against the treatment of the LGBTI community in Russia.

The LGBTI people in Russia face legal and social challenges not experienced by non-LGBTI persons. Although same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults in private was decriminalized in 1993, same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are ineligible for the legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

There are currently NO LAWS prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in Russia.

Tatchell has spent the majority of his life fighting for the rights of communities, around the globe, that cannot fight for themselves.

“In the 1990s he campaigned for LGBT rights through the direct action group OutRage!, which he co-founded. He has worked on various campaigns, such as Stop Murder Music against music lyrics allegedly inciting violence against LGBT people and writes and broadcasts on various human rights and social justice issues. He attempted a citizen’s arrest of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 1999 and again in 2001.

In April 2004, he joined the Green Party of England and Wales and in 2007 was selected as prospective parliamentary candidate in the constituency of Oxford East, but in December 2009 announced he was standing down due to brain damage he says was caused by a bus accident as well as damage inflicted by Mugabe’s bodyguards when Tatchell tried to arrest him in 2001, and by neo-Nazis in Moscowwhile campaigning for gay rights.

Since 2013 he has been a full-time employee of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.”

Russian police briefly detained the veteran British campaigner in Moscow on Thursday after he attempted to hold a one-man protest near the Kremlin in support of gay rights on the first day of the World Cup.

Peter Tatchell arrested Russia Worldcup Gay Protests

Tatchell’s protest, held three hours before the ceremony, involved the activist unfurling a small banner near the Kremlin’s walls calling attention to what his foundation described as Russia’s mistreatment of LGBT+ people.

“President Putin has failed to condemn and act against the homophobic witch-hunts in Chechnya, which have seen scores of LGBT+ people arrested and tortured, with some even being killed,” Tatchell said in a statement. He said he had been detained in Russia twice before.

Russian police quickly shut the protest down, with one officer telling Tatchell to stop what he was doing.

“During the World Cup it is forbidden to hold any action like this against Putin, against all these things,” the policeman said. Tatchell told the policeman he wanted to meet Putin to discuss gay rights in Russia.

The activist said he spent an hour and 40 minutes in police custody before being released.

“Senior officers were stern but the apprehending officer very helpful, friendly and polite,” the campaigner said, adding he was receiving support from the British embassy.

Responding to news that the prominent British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been arrested and charged with a criminal offence after staging a protest near Moscow’s Red Square about LGBTI rights in Chechnya, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

“The response to Peter Tatchell’s protest is straight out of the Russian authorities’ playbook – protest in a high-profile location like Red Square, hold a placard criticising Putin or speak in support of LGBTI right in public, and face immediate arrest by the police.

In present-day Russia, there’s no right to peacefully protest, no right to publicly stand up for LGBTI people, and certainly no chance of staging a street protest about last year’s sinister gay crackdown in Chechnya.

It’s no surprise to hear that Mr Tatchell has been arrested solely for exercising his right to peaceful protest. We understand he has now been released but will stand trial for this ‘offence’. This is outrageous – all charges against him should be dropped immediately.

Peter Tatchell’s arrest should not distract attention from his message. The Russian authorities should explain what steps have been taken in earnest to investigate reports of a ‘gay purge’ in the Chechen Republic.”

Having reportedly been charged under Federal Law 54 and Presidential Decree 202, which prohibit all protests near the Kremlin and during the World Cup, Peter Tatchell has been bailed and is due to appear in court on 26 June.

Earlier this week, Amnesty warned that the authorities in Russia have been using “Soviet-style” tactics against human rights defenders in recent years, with a marked decline in the safety of human rights activists since Russia was named World Cup hosts in 2010.

In April, activists staged a vigil in London marking the one-year point since reports emerged of a “gay purge” in the Chechen Republic, with the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reporting that dozens of men had been abducted, tortured and killed. To date, not one person has been held to account for these crimes and no meaningful investigation has taken place.


Sources: Amnesty International
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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