Five gay rights activists were detained in Moscow yesterday as they attempted to deliver a petition to the office of Russia's prosecutor general concerning the reported abuse of LGBT people in Chechnya.
The four Russians and one Italian national were detained as they tried to deliver the printout of the petition along with a number of large empty boxes, which they carried as a symbol of the more than two million signatures they had collected from online activism platforms including Change.org. Their petition demands “an unbiased investigation of illegal detentions of hundreds of people in Chechnya because of their homosexuality”.
According to Russian police, the activists were detained because they had failed to get permission from the authorities to carry out their demonstration.
Last week President Vladimir Putin gave his approval for an inquiry into the alleged crackdown on LGBT people in Chechnya, a Russian federal subject located in the North Caucasus. While Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has agreed to cooperate with federal authorities, he continues to insist that gay people simply do not exist in Chechnya.
While homosexuality is legal in Russia, levels of homophobia remain high. In 2013 President Putin signed a law that introduced fines for citizens who spread information aimed at minors which may cause a “distorted understanding” that gay and heterosexual relations are “socially equivalent”, termed “gay propaganda”.
Source: BBC News