Defiant Russian LGBT+ alliance silenced by authorities vows to ‘change this shameful reality’

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4/3/21

An LGBT+ social media page followed by tens of thousands of queer Russians and allies blocked by authorities has vowed to continue fighting for equality. The Alliance of Straights and LGBT for Equality page on VKontakte, Russia’s most popular social network, was removed on 19 March at the behest of the country’s communications regulator for “promoting non-traditional sexual relations”. Now, those hoping to speak openly with friends and fellow activists are met with a blank page that reads: “This index of the page of the site on the internet contains information, the distribution of which, is prohibited by a court decision in the Russian Federation.” Representatives of VKontakte wrote in a public statement that the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, otherwise known as the Roskomnadzor, ordered the platform to take down the Alliance’s page or else face fines. “The regulation of social networks in Russia is tightening,” the statement read, referencing new laws that force social media platforms to censor content deemed illegal by the state. With some 32,000 followers, the Alliance was one of the network’s most-followed LGBT+ pages. It acted as both a bulletin board for news and protests as well as a forum for queer folk and allies to chat. Aleksei Sergeev, the Alliance’s coordinator, told PinkNews: “We knew it could happen any day.” He reflected how it feels as if almost “every LGBT+ activist or initiative who make public activity about LGBT+ rights” is eventually squashed by the so-called “gay propaganda law“. “We want to change this shameful reality where the LGBT people are second-class citizens,” Sergeev added. “We demand equality. We want to make Russia a more tolerant society without homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

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