Around 350 people gathered in St Petersburg to carry out a flash mob for IDAHOT which makes it the biggest LGBT rally in Russia’s history, according to Svetlana Zakharova a representative of the Russian LGBT network. Similarly to the previous year, said Zakharova, the gathering went undisturbed by police and homophobic protesters.
Though Russia remains the 3rd worst country in Europe in terms of LGBT equality, according to the ILGA index, the situation has improved over the last year. Zakharova told Hromadske that she had seen some positive change over the last year. The government’s homophobic policies and pressure on LGBT people has inadvertently united and strengthened the LGBT community, said Zakharova . This year, for example, the community has managed to open two community centers, according to Zakharova.
Zakharova told Hromadske that another reason why the situation for Russia’s LGBT community might be improving is because the Russian government is busy with other issues such as the economy and the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
At the same time, said Zakharova, the Russian ombudsman for human rights recently published a report which said that LGBT rights in Russia were not being violated – ignoring the anti-gay propaganda law passed in 2013 and the frequent attacks against LGBT people.
Hromadske International's Maxim Eristavi and Sabra Ayres spoke with Svetlana Zakharova via Skype on May 17, 2015.