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Approved Gay Event in Russia's Far East Set to Test Tolerance

Published: May 11, 2014 (Issue # 1809)



  • Alexander Ermoshkin carrying rainbow-hued balloons.
    Photo: Alexander Ermoshkin / Facebook

Gay rights activist Alexander Yermoshkin said Thursday that local authorities had approved his request to hold a public event against LGBT discrimination on May 17, a move that may see Russia's controversial anti-gay propaganda law tested.

Other gay rights activists, particularly Moscow's Nikolai Alexeyev, have frequently complained of applications for similar, smaller scale events for the LGBT community being refused.

Yermoshkin, a gay rights activist and Khabarovsk resident, was fired from his 18-year career as a geography teacher in the aftermath of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law being enacted last summer.

The anti-gay propaganda law bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors" and has sparked international outrage since its signing in June 2013.

Yermoshkin posted on his Facebook page that authorities had agreed to let him hold an event where he and up to 100 people would release a rainbow of balloons into the sky. The event will mark the International Day Against Homophobia.

In his application to hold the event on May 17, Yermoshkin wrote that the action was meant to show "resistance to fascism, a fight against discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against representatives of the LGBT community."

Yermoshkin told The St. Petersburg Times by phone from Khabarovsk that he had also submitted an application last year, which was accepted, though it was before the anti-gay law took effect on the federal level. This year, he copied last year's application for the same event to the letter and approached authorities "very formally" with his request, he said.

"Provoking a reaction [from authorities] was never my goal … so I sent in a very traditional application," he said.

He told local news media earlier that he intended to sue authorities if they refused the application.

Whereas previous events held on May 17 included posters expressing gay pride, Yermoshkin adapted this demonstration — which has been held seven times — by scrapping the posters and scaling it down to the simple release of balloons with people's wishes attached.

Though authorities granted permission for the event, Yermoshkin may encounter problems similar to those he faced last year, when members of the Nazi-inspired Stoltz Khabarovsk group showed up to the event and threatened participants.

He said he didn't exclude the possibility of such harassment being repeated this year, since an anti-gay Vkontakte group was already discussing the event.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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