Russian police shut down LGBT photo exhibition


A poster advertising the Being Yourself exhibition

Moscow police have reportedly forced gallery staff to shut down a photo exhibition focusing on the plight of LGBT youth in Russia.

The three-day Being Yourself exhibition was meant to open last Friday (12 June) at the Red Square gallery.

The event would only have been open to members of the public older than 18, so as not to contravene the country’s so-called gay propaganda law. The pictures were also said to not be explicit.

According to Queer Russia, the venue’s staff and owner were nevertheless still harassed by unidentified police at home and at the gallery.

The officers said the exhibition was “about fags and paedophiles” and threatened to set up roadblocks to stop visitors and promised to ensure that the building’s landlord would terminate the gallery’s lease.

In protest against the police’s actions, which effectively amounted to a ban, some of the photos were briefly exhibited in a park along Gogolevsky Boulevard in Moscow on Saturday.

After about four hours, officers arrived on the scene and took down the pictures. They also detained photographer Denis Styazhkin and a 16-year-old girl who was looking at the images.

Police take down photos displayed along Gogolevsky Boulevard

Police take down photos displayed along Gogolevsky Boulevard (Pic: Denis Styazhkin / Instagram)

Styazhkin was interrogated by officers from the Centre Combating Extremism before being released. It is unclear what happened to the teenager.

The exhibition organisers said in a statement that the “exclusion of Russian LGBT teens from the official discourse” is not only a barrier to self expression but also results in a “lack of psychological care and protection from aggression and violence.”

Russia’s LGBT community has faced growing discrimination and censorship since President Putin enacted a federal gay propaganda law in June 2013 which banned “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.”

In April, a Russian court ruled against an online support group for LGBT youth, which  has faced a number of legal battles thanks to the discriminatory law.

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