Kissing for gay equality in Pretoria (Pic: Mambaonline.com)
Gay and lesbian South Africans staged kiss-in protests in Cape Town and Pretoria against Russia’s anti-gay legislation on Friday.
In Pretoria, a small group of around 20 people turned out at the Russian embassy in Menlo Park.
The gathering included representatives of Johannesburg Pride, Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Mr.Gay World.
Holding up signs that proclaimed “no hate” a number of same-sex couples – including former Mr. Gay South Africa Jason Rogers and his boyfriend – kissed each other in front of the building, surprising astonished security guards and SAPS officials.
Their actions were meant to highlight the reality that if they had kissed in Russia they would have faced being arrested, fined and thrown out of the country under the new gay propaganda law.
Earlier, Coenie W. Kukkuk from Mr. Gay World and Kaye Ally from Johannesburg Pride spoke to Russian officials who came out to meet the protest group.
Kukkuk said he was not in favour of a boycott of the Sochi Olympics in 2014 as innocent athletes from nations who do respect human rights would be affected, some of whom have worked for most of their adult lives for their Olympic moment.
However, he called for targeted sanctions against the Russian legislators responsible for the anti-gay law.
Ally said to the officials: “In South Africa we respect diversity and equality in our constitution and homophobia is not welcome here.”
Protesters in Cape Town (Pic: Simon D / PINK Papparazzi)
The officials agreed to convey the message to the Russian ambassador and asked for a memorandum to be sent by e-mail. A memorandum prepared earlier by Ally was lost when she was attacked and robbed at her home on Thursday.
Ally expressed her dismay at the poor turnout for the protest, asking, in part humorously, “Surely there are more gay people in Pretoria?”
In Cape Town, a small group of LGBT protesters held a similar kiss-in organised by Cape Town Pride outside of the Russian consulate on Riebeek Street in the city centre.
Unlike in Pretoria, the protesters called for a boycott of the Sochi Olympic Games and held up placards with the words “Sochi: hate on ice” and “Sochi: winter of hate” and manipulated images of Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing makeup.
Russia’s gay propaganda law effectively bars any public display of, or support for, homosexuality in public, on television, in print or on the internet.