More Than 100 Demonstrators March With Russian LGBTQ+ Group In Coney Island to Support Ukraine
Coney Island, summer 2021 | Photo by Queer on the Street
Rusa LGBT, a Russian LGBTQ+ organization, held a march in Coney Island to show support of Ukraine on Saturday, March 19.
The march attracted more than 100 demonstrators and began on the Coney Island boardwalk and into Brighton Beach, an area with a high population of Russian-speaking residents, some of which are Russian immigrants.
Organizer Ezra Erikson, who was born and lived a lot of his life in Russia, told Bronx News-12 “I moved because I'm gay and I didn't feel safe in Russia, and if we, as minorities, as LGBTQ communities, want rights in Russia, for us, success of Ukraine in that regard means our own success… Our goal is to say it loudly that Putin is a war criminal and hopefully talk to people that live here and tell them that no human being can support what's going on.”
Over the last 2o years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed to “protect” Russia’s “traditional culture” and by doing so, has implemented violent policies on the LGBTQ+ community in Russia. For example, he has equated homosexuality with pedophilia and believes gender fluidity is a “crime against humanity.”
In 2013, Russia passed the “gay propaganda” law which made it a criminal offense to promote LGBTQ+ rights. This law has been used to imprison LGBTQ+ activists and forcibly shut down LGBTQ+ support groups.
With the invasion of Ukraine, people are concerned that the LGBTQ+ Ukrainians will be targeted by Russian officials but these concerns are not for naught. Last month, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said “LGBTQI+ persons are included on lists” that have been created by Russia to “be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.”
Currently, same-sex marriage in Ukraine is illegal and anti-discrimination laws do not protect LGBTQ+ people. Along with this, the Christian Orthodox Church, the predominant religious institution in Ukraine, believes homosexuality is a sin and teaches as such. Patriarch Filaret, a prominent Ukrainian Orthodox leader, blamed the pandemic on LGBTQ+ people and same-sex marriages, claiming COVID-19 was “punishment.”