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Russian activist gets permission to hold LGBT event

International Day Against Homophobia action could test propaganda law

A Russian activist who was dismissed from his teaching job after the enactment of a nationwide anti-gay gag law in June last year has received permission to stage an LGBT event in Khabarovsk, a city in Russia’s far east, Moscow Times reports.

Alexander Yermoshkin, who applied to hold his event on May 17 as part of the International Day Against Homophobia, says he told authorities in his submission that the action is aimed at fighting against discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against representatives of the LGBT community.” He told the Times, however, that the event, which has been held in previous years, would include a balloon release but not the usual posters with gay-pride messages.

Yermoshkin, who has organized other LGBT and anti-homophobia events before, says he had never considered Khabarovsk to be homophobic until the passage of the so-called gay propaganda law. Two flash mobs that he helped organize were attacked, the first by a group of Nazis, known as Shtolts, and the other by Baptist Christians. 

Yermoshkin says both groups teamed up to collect signatures for a petition calling for his dismissal from his school. He says his district’s department of education put pressure on the school’s head teacher to fire him, saying they’d look into her “professional suitability” if she refused.

Yermoshkin says he anticipates some backlash against the event from opponents, as he is already seeing discussions about it on VKontakte, or VK, Russia’s largest social network.