On May 17, various events devoted to the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia will take place all over the world. For the first time, the May 17 took place in 2014 to attract attention the violations of LGBT rights, violence and discrimination. The date was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
May 17 is now celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal, with 1600 events reported from 1280 organizations in 2014. In Russia, various events took place in 17 cities (International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia).
In Russia various events devoted to May 17 will be organized by most regional branches and collective members of the Russian LGBT Network. It means that the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia will be celebrated in Archangelsk, Voronezh, Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Murmansk, Syktyvkar, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Perm, Tomsk, Samara and Tyumen. In Moscow the Rainbow flashmob will be organized by the “Rainbow association”, and in St. Petersburg – by the LGBT initiative group “Coming Out”. It is also known the authorities of Khabarovsk already recommended activists “not to hold this event” because it “can possibly violate the law “On Protection of Children from Information Detrimental to their Health and Development”. In spite of that, the activists and the organizer of the Rainbow flashmob Alexander Ermoshkin are willing to hold the even anyway.
For many LGBT activists in Russia the May 17 is a very special day. As Artem Nikiforov from Tomsk pointed out “Other events and celebrations can be missed or postponed, but not May 17th”. Besides the rainbow flashmobs, in some regions screenings, meetings and many other things will take place.
Archangelsk. “In 2013-14, the International Day against Homophobia in Archangelsk was celebrated as a Rainbow flashmob - the balloons with the slogans against hatred were let off in the sky. This rally always attracts a lot of attention, but in 2015, we decided to do something new. Yes, there will be the Rainbow flashmob, but we also plan to organize something like free-hugs activity. We believe that it can help us not only to attract people’s attention, but also to show that we are positive and open. And maybe people’s attitude towards LGBT will change. We love people and the will love us.” Valeria Menshikova
Yekaterinburg. In Yekaterinburg, many events are planned to celebrate the IDAHO. The activists will organize film screening and flashmob in the social networks; they will also hand out flowers with the postcards and stories devoted to May 17 on the streets. Moreover, the opening of the new community center for LGBT in Yekaterinburg is scheduled for this day.
Moscow. “I have been organizing the Rainbow flashmob in Moscow already 6 years (since 2010), since 2011 I am part of the “Rainbow association”. According to the Russian legislation, we don’t need any permission for the flashmobs, so we didn’t even try to get the authorities’ permission. I expect and hope that really many people will join the Flashmob. I want people around us to see that there are a lot of us and that we are normal and bright people. This year the focus of our Flashmob is the rights and freedoms of transgender people”. Njuta Ginsburg
Murmansk. “The state labeled us as foreign agents and hinders our organization’s work - we constantly face threats, physical violence, and vandalism. But even in such circumstances, we want to show that we are not broken, that we are willing to fight for our rights, for ourselves and close ones.” The head of the Murmansk LGBT organization Maximum Sergey Alexeenko also mentioned that probably the local authorities will not issue permission for the public event, and now the activists consider other options. They plan to organize rainbow rally by cars and leave the balloons with the stories of hate crimes all over the city.
Nakhodka and Khabarovsk. In the Far East of Russia, it is planned to have the Rainbow Flashmobs and to conduct the survey on the streets. The activists in Nakhodka plan hand out the balloons and postcards devoted to May 17 to people and ask them about their attitude towards LGBT.
Syktyvkar. “For the first time I took part in the Rainbow flashmob in 2010. We went to the central square of the city (then it wasn’t yet forbidden to have public events). We released the balloons and it was truly inspiring and amazing. In 2011, I became the organizer of the Rainbow flashmob in Syktyvkar. This year we will have fewer balloons, but we will arrange the “rainbow stairs”. We found a place in the old park and going to color big stairs, it is going to be beautiful. We will also arrange film-screening and open discussion on biphobia later on; we will have online flashmob “We are here” and will spread the leaflets on the streets.” Vyacheslav
St. Petersburg. In St. Petersburg, the LGBT initiative group “Coming Out” organizes the Rainbow flashmob. St. Petersburg’s authorities have already received the notification. “We hope that the "rainbow flashmob" in 2015 will be a solidarity action and that on this day we will be able to join various initiatives like the LGBT community and human rights sector in St. Petersburg. Only together can we defend our right to be who we are, the right to live without intimidation and harassment, the right to speak and be heard.” Coming Out
Tomsk. “Every year Tomsk activists celebrate the International day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in various ways. This day is really important for many people in our city. Other events and celebrations can be missed or postponed, but not May 17. Our group exists 7 years, and only once the Rainbow flashmob was cancelled for reasons beyond our control. We truly hope that the beauty of this event, our openness and strength will make people realize that we are not monsters, that we are just people who live nearby”. Artem Nikiforov
Tyumen. “The history of IDAHOT in Tyumen is not that happy. From the very beginning, it was a celebration, the day of solidarity when LGBT people could spend some time together. However, the homophobic attitudes in the country and in our city grew stronger, and the rally itself was changing. In 2012, nationalist tried to disrupt the Rainbow Flashmob for the first time. In 2013-14, public rallies were cancelled because of the threats and orders by administration, but some brave people went out to the streets to have one-man pickets, to release the balloons and to celebrate IDAHOT.
This year I am the coordinator of the Rainbow flashmob in Tyumen. I want this day to regain the feeling of joy and feast; I want this event to be safe. Those who believe that respect of human dignity, humanity and justice are not empty words should be together. Our fight against homophobia is not over, but it is really important this day to go out and to express our position without fear. It is our day. It is our celebration.” Marina Puzankova