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Fighting for LGBT Rights in Russia

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Published on Mar 23, 2012

The city of Saint Petersburg passed a law earlier this year banning the "promotion of homosexuality to minors." And it's here to stay. St. Petersburg, Russia's "cultural capital," didn't pioneer the discriminatory and ambiguously worded legislation, but its passage is a victory for bigots who are now hoping to intensify legislative persecution of Russia's gays in other regions—from Novosibirsk in Siberia to Samara in the Volga Delta.

Could it be that Russia's vast regions are uniting under one anti-rainbow banner that seems equally appealing to the ruling United Russia party, the communists, and the Church? Will Russia's gays have to emigrate in search of peace, justice, and stability?

Kseniya Kirichenko and her colleagues aren't going anywhere. Kseniya runs a legal assistance program for the Russian LGBT Network, the country's largest interregional NGO working on gay rights. A Novosibirsk-based attorney, she's engaged in advocacy, research, and legal assistance for victims of discrimination and violence motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity bias.

Kseniya is alarmed about the restrictive legislation's possible replication in her native Novosibirsk, where she founded Gender and Law, a human rights group focusing on women's and LGBT human rights. The organization raises awareness and educates the public about the abuse and discrimination facing queer Russians, and it's very much threatened by the new legislative efforts that curtail freedom of expression and seek to equate homosexuality with pedophilia or bestiality.

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