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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.





 


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Thursday, July 24


Liliana Modiliani, a well-known Russian stylist, will talk about choosing clothes that fit during her lecture at 7 p.m. at the Pryamoy Efir art club, 13 Viborgskoe Shosse.



Friday, July 25


Discuss Russia’s economic and political prospects for 2014 during a Business Breakfast organized by SPIBA at 9.30 a.m. in the Bank Saint-Petersburg office at 64


Malookhtinsky Prospekt.


Start your weekend with adorable miniature pigs at the Squealing Pig festival at 7 p.m. this evening in the Karl & Friedrich restaurant, 15 Iozhnaya doroga, on Krestovsky Island.



Saturday, July 26


Hundreds of brand-new and retro cars, drag and drift shows, test drives and karting are planned for the Avtobum-2014 festival, which will take place in front of the RIO shopping center at 2 Fuchika Ulitsa.


Participants in today’s SaniDay Summer competition will impress visitors with their hand-made, unusual and hilarious boats, which will race at the Igora Resort near the 54th kilometer on Priozerskoe Shosse.


Metro Family Day will include both serious lectures for adults and master-classes for children, making the event interesting for the whole family. To participate, come to Kirov Park on Yelagin Island.


Photography will be the focus of today’s Photosubbota, which features lectures by famous photographers, meetings with photo schools and studio representatives, and participation in a photography competition. The event starts at noon at Petrokongress, 5 Lodeynopolskaya Ulitsa.


If you like cycling, make sure to visit the Za Velogorod Festival with its retro bike exhibition, market and live music. The second round of the Leningrad Criterium race will also take place during the event at Petrovsky Arsenal in Sestroretsk.



Sunday, July 27


Navy Day will be celebrated with a weapon and military transportation exhibition, self-defense master classes and concerts. The event starts at 1 p.m. in the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburg.



Monday, July 28


Don’t miss a chance to see the latest achievements in robotics during the RoboDom interactive show, exhibiting more than 150 robots. The show will be at BUM center, 22/2 Gzhatskaya Ulitsa, until Aug. 3. The entrance ticket costs 350 rubles ($10).



Tuesday, July 29


A video of a Queen concert from 1986 will be shown today at 8 p.m. in Yaschik, 50/13 Ligovsky Prospekt.



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