Bolstered by anti-gay legislation backed by the Kremlin, Russia is quickly becoming a nexis of homophobic violence and hate speech. Numerous videos have been posted online humiliating gay teenagers through abuse, people have been beaten to death, and arrests have been made for violations of the controversial anti-gay propaganda laws.
Yet another hate crime was committed over the weekend. A transgender woman was attacked by five men in a public park, while bystanders watched the event transpire without intervening. It seems that the fear of retribution for intervention has cultivated a society tolerant of hate crimes in Russia.
The video is below (WARNING: Content is extremely violent and disturbing):
These events are no longer isolated. Gay teenage boys are being lured through social media by Russian hate groups who proclaim themselves to be vigilantes who lure gay teenage boys through social media to meet in person. They then beat and humiliate their victims by posting videos online. "The Russian authorities have not responded to any of these developments," said Ilga's Bjoern van Roozendaal, pointing out that the perpetrators were often clearly identifiable in the videos. People in Russia have begun to lose confidence in the authorities, which is going to prevent victims from coming forward in the future.
"These social consequences are a lot more dangerous than any fines for 5,000 rubles or a ban on public events or something like that, because they are connected with people's individual fates," said the well-known lawyer and gay-rights activist Nikolai Alekseyev.
A poll in February showed that only 7% of the respondents actually knew a gay person in Russia. It appears these social consequences that have been imposed by Russian authorities have silenced people, because it's hard to imagine that in a population of 143 million, only 7% of people actually have a gay acquaintance.
If the progression of gay rights in America tells us something, it's that acceptance came from an educational awakening and understanding as more people chose to identify with their sexuality. Russia will not gain anything by suppressing the voice of the LGBT community other than violent outbursts.