As a slight deviation from my LGBT History Month Project I had to write about the situation in Russia today.
Last night I watched the Channel 4 documentary Hunted. I say watched – I actually had to switch off eventually because I found the programme too disturbing. The programme is available on catch up on 4OD but be warned this is a very disturbing documentary as you will see from this short trailer.
If you have not heard about Hunted, it shows how, as a result of Russia’s anti gay laws, gangs of vigilantes are now hunting gay men and subjecting them to humiliation, beatings and torture sometimes resulting severe injury or death. The police provide little or no protection to LGBT people and often add to the harassment.
The vigilante group shown in the programme is a chapter of ‘Occupy Paedophilia’ who claim to be targeting paedophiles, yet all their targets are gay men. Their strategy, called “a safari”, is to connect online in gay chat room and dating sites and encourage a gay man to meet them at an apartment. There the group waits to trap them. torture and humiliate them, and post a video of the event on the internet to “destroy their lives”. This is exactly what happened in the documentary and I have to wonder what might have happened to the victim if the incident were not being filmed by journalists.
Why would they let a journalist film them? Simple – they have no fear of any repercussions for their acts. They do not try to hide their identities and vigilantes routinely get off even violent attacks with a caution. And it is easy to see why. Most Russian citizens interviewed think that what they are doing is good and openly a tiny proportion admit to even knowing someone who is gay.
Then I read an article in Pink News today headlined “Russian deputy Prime Minister: Gay athletes should ‘leave the kids alone’ The official line in Russia clearly is that all gay people are paedophiles. Russian President Vladamir Putin had made a similar comment a few weeks ago in arguing that gay athletes at the winter Olympics will be safe. If I was a gay Olympic athlete, after watching last nights programme, I would be very concerned for my safety.
There is very clear evidence from research connecting homophobia with suppressed homosexuality. Religious organisations have for centuries been at the forefront of anti gay propaganda whilst refusing to address the huge issues of priests sexually abusing young boys. The Russian Orthodox priest interviewed on Hunted was alarming in his views and I for one would not want to see children anywhere near him.
I know from conversations with counselors dealing with sexual abuse issues that most paedophiles are heterosexual men, often step parents or other members of their victim’s family. Most homophobic men on Hunted last night seemed to want to engage in ritual abuse of their victims which, as we saw, often had an uncomfortably sexual slant.
If the Russian leadership continues to promote the view that all gay men are paedophiles it is hardly surprising that the people in Russia are becoming increasingly homophobic. The same messages are being promoted in Africa often heavily supported by American homophobic church missionaries.
What is happening in Russia is not just a Russian problem. The recent debates in the Common and Lords around the Equal Marriage Bill highlighted that these extreme views still exist especially within religious organisations who managed to negotiate an opt out from the provisions of the Act. The Church of England is prevented by law from officiating in a same sex marriage, even if a particular vicar wanted to perform the ceremony.
I think that it is time to get serious about exposing this hypocrisy and increasingly bring to public attention the abusive nature of these extreme religious and political fanatics. They seem to be targeting the gay community to hide the fact that often it is they themselves who are the worst paedophiles because they hide behind the cover or high profile respectability – just as Jimmy Saville managed to do for decades.
I have just come across this short video that shows graphically the kind of problems that are happening to gay people in Russia and wanted to share with you – it is disturbing but shows how fascist propaganda can move people. 88 % of Russians apparently support the change in law and it seems that this is because they have been convinced that Gay people can make their children gay with propaganda.