2 min

Activist alleges assault after being recognized as kiss-in protester

Russian man allegedly hit Yogi Omar at Chinese airport

Yogi Omar (left) kisses Ryan Clayton outside the Russian consulate in Vancouver. Omar reports that he was punched in the stomach in an airport in China after he was recognized as a kiss-in organizer. Credit: Jeremy Hainsworth

The organizer of a number of Vancouver kiss-in protests against Russia's anti-gay gag law reports that he was punched outside the airport in Guangzhou, China, after being recognized as the person behind the demonstrations.

In a Facebook posting, Yogi Omar says he was at the terminal entrance when a man asked him if he was the kiss-in organizer.

"Before I even had the chance to answer, out of the blue he punched me in the stomach," Omar alleges, saying his attacker is Russian.

Omar says a crowd intervened to stop the man but let him go after he started yelling in Mandarin that Omar "is a gay."

Omar alleges the man was getting ready to attack him again but says he kicked him in the balls and ran toward a cop yelling that he is a Canadian. He says he witnessed the officer having a conversation with the Russian man, who was eventually allowed to leave.

Omar says the officer then told him that because the incident occurred in an international airport, the law is neutral, that he "should just let this go" and that his attacker would have won the case because he was "in the right."

Omar, who says he was not seriously hurt, says he was escorted through check-in and is waiting for a flight back toVancouver.

"I know I probably can't do much about this, but one thing was true, I fought back. I'm proud of myself and I am speaking out about this. And this incident will not go unnoticed. I'm OK, but I'm oh so SO pissed," says Omar at the end of the post.

Omar organized an Aug 2 kiss-in outside the Russian consulate amidst growing calls for a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics and Russian products. He organized another kiss-in outside the same consulate Oct 11 on the occasion of National Coming Out Day and a third on the opening night of the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Aug 15.

While he understands the rationale behind the calls for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics, Omar says he prefers to fight hate with love. “If I’m kissing a man, it’s just an act of love, but in Russia, it’s propaganda, and you can get arrested.”

He told Xtra in August that his way of fighting back is "to kill them with kindness.

"I think it's backward. It is wrong," he says of the law. "If it's traditions that have to evolve, then move. If it's religion, then follow all of it, not one law."

Xtra is following the story.

— with files from Jeremy Hainsworth