Russia: “If there’s no freedom of assembly for LGBT, there’s none for anyone else”

Russian activist Igor Yasin on attitudes towards LGBT in Russia’s regions, why the opposition has a homophobia problem, and how to assert your rights — and still be heard. 

Life isn’t easy for representatives of Russia’s LGBT community who don’t hide their sexual orientation. A 2013 law on “gay propaganda” has, in effect, legalised LGBT discrimination. Today, when Russian courts examine offences committed against LGBT people, they often do not even establish hate as a motivating factor.

As part of oDR’s series on Russian civic activists (check out our other articles hereand here), I spoke to Igor Yasin, one of the leaders of the Rainbow Association, an organiser of public meetings in support of LGBT and co-chair of the Union of Journalists, about attitudes towards LGBT in Russia’s regions, why the Russian opposition has a homophobia problem and how to speak about your rights and be heard.

How did you come to activism?

Igor Yasin: I was finishing my undergraduate degree in Egypt, at Cairo University, where I got interested in politics. I first took part in street protest in 2003, in anti-war demonstrations. When I returned to Russia, I decided to figure out what was happening here politically.  Read more via Open Democracy