Rainbow Flags Get 17 May Day Marchers Arrested in Russia


Seventeen protesters have reportedly been arrested during a May Day march in Russia with police charging them under St Petersburg’s ban on homosexual propaganda and failure to comply with police orders because some of them were trying to fly rainbow flags and gay-positive posters.

Reports the Guardian:

Members of the group were detained while trying to unfurl rainbow flags at a rally organised by opposition groups, activists said. Police said they were to be charged with failing to co-operate with officers.

“The first activists who unfurled their flags were detained. Some tried to raise posters, they were also detained,” said Yury Gavrikov, a local gay rights leader. “Two police officers would grab each person, with no warning.”


More than 30,000 people took part in the city’s May Day celebrations, officials said. The rally was led by the ruling United Russia party, but also included representatives of the Communist party and nationalist groups.

More details come from St Petersburg LGBT organization Coming Out:

This year’s May 1st march is a peaceful demonstration, permitted by the city administration. LGBT activists were marching as part of a larger “democratic” column, consisting of various democratic and civil society groups of St. Petersburg. 5 minutes into the march, police requested removal of rainbow flags. When activists refused, they were forcefully detained and are now facing charges of “propaganda of homosexuality” and non-compliance with the police. One activist was detained for holding a sign “homophobia is illegal.”

17 activists are still being held by the police. Among those detained are Igor Kochetkov, chairman of the Russian LGBT Network, Mikhail Belodedov of Coming Out, Sergey Kondrashov, lawyer and straight ally, and Elena Popova, director of St. Petersburg organization “Soldier’s mothers”, defending rights of draftees.

St Petersburg enacted a law on March 30 that bans citizens from transmitting “homosexual propaganda” in public.

Legal commentators have warned that the ban is so nebulous it may be unenforceable.

Adding weight to this, a judge recently declined to invoke the new St Petersburg law during sentencing a man who held up a gay positive sign in public because the law’s definition of what constitutes “propaganda” is so wide it is almost meaningless.

The Ryazan, Kostroma and Arkhangelsk regions have also banned so-called LGBT propaganda all under the guise of protecting minors.

There is now a push to enact a federal ban.

It recently emerged that the St Petersburg law is likely to have been inspired by a US evangelical.


Related Reading:

Moscow Now Proposing Anti-Gay Law

Russian Gay Activist Attacked While Police Look On

Russian Politicians Ban ‘Gay Propaganda,’ Hire Trans Prostitutes

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to brainchildvn.


Allan Yorkowitz
.5 years ago

All you can do is keep fighting the good fight.
It would be interesting to know how many members there are in the Communist Party.

Jane H.
Jane H5 years ago

I admire the bravery and courage of the 17 souls who followed the Spirit to do this work.

Cheryl W.
Cheryl Watson5 years ago

Sad to read. It is going to get that bad in the United States if the right-wing extremists have their way in the court systems. There seems to be a very "anti-gay" movement here, especially in many states in the South. A War on the LBGT community is certainly not what Jesus would do; he would focus on love and acceptance and not hatred.

John B.
John B5 years ago

My admiration goes out to those brave activists and hope the GLBTQ commiunity in Russia stands firm in the fight for their human (gay) rights. Thanks for the Steve.

Darlene Buckingham

We are the rainbow - our chakras our spirit light bodies radiate the rainbow. How can we be illegal?

Darlene Buckingham

The rainbow is a symbol from God that peace has returned to Earth. Anyone can use the rainbow as a sign of peace and love. It is not a sole gay symbol but can certainly be used to speak to peace for ALL. We are all light beings, the chakras ,our Spirit body is the rainbow. It is our Spirits that are being suppressed here on Earth. How can human beings, what we are be illegal?

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Thank you for the article...

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

such a ghastly export...

Erica Cook
Erica Cook5 years ago

What we should do is try to come up with something common in Russia that anyone would usually wear and turn it into a simebl of Russian gay pride. When people who aren't actually doing anything other than maybe, wearing a pin or a particuler hat gets arrested people will start to do something.

Allan Yorkowitz
.5 years ago

Until Putin leaves, and there is an actual democracy in Russian, nothing will ever change.