Gay activists in Russia cite political intolerance as reason for alleged hate crime

Gay rights activists in Russia believe anti-gay laws and sentiment are fueling homophobia and violence

Published May 13, 2013 6:49PM (EDT)

                      (Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

In what authorities believe to be a hate crime, a 23-year-old gay man was brutally beaten and murdered in the Russian city of Volgograd last week.

The victim's battered body was found in an apartment building Friday morning, with signs of having been burned and sexually assaulted.

Natalia Kunitskaya, a spokeswoman for the Volgograd branch of the Investigative Committee, told Agence France Presse that her agency believed the crime was motivated by the victim's sexuality. A 22-year-old and 27-year-old were detained in connection with the brutal assault.

As reported by AFP:

The Investigative Committee's tersely-worded statement said investigators had opened a murder probe, without commenting on possible motives for the killing.

The attack comes at a time when rights groups are already worried about growing discrimination against homosexuals as President Vladimir Putin seeks to play up traditional values in a bid to rally support during his third term in office...

Russian parliament is considering passing a controversial national law banning "homosexual propaganda" among minors. Critics say the bill's wording is so vague that it could be used to justify any kind of repression against gays.

The law is already in place in several regions including Saint Petersburg.

Gay rights activists in the country have blamed Vladimir Putin, the country's political leadership and a growing body of anti-gay legislation for sanctioning discrimination against gays and lesbians and, in effect, condoning violence against them: "I am wondering whether those State Duma deputies who... are now adopting a law against homosexual propaganda realize that these beer bottles have essentially been planted by them?" Russian film critic Alexander Timofeevsky wrote on Facebook, in reference to a report that the victim had been sexually assaulted with beer bottles.

Nikolai Alexeyev, head of activist group Gay Russia also believes that growing influence from the Orthodox Church and recent legislation are fueling homophobia and violence toward gays and lesbians, as he told AFP: "Homophobic hysteria is being increasingly promoted in Russia."

Activists are planning a memorial march on May 25, "whether authorities grant permission or not," according to Alexeyev.


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Anti-gay Violence Homophobia Lgbt Rights Russia Vladimir Putin