LGBT Rights Campaigner Arrested In Russia

Olivia Blair
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Esquire

On the opening day of the 2018 World Cup, one of the UK's most prominent LGBT rights campaigners has been arrested in the host country.

Peter Tatchell, who rose to prominence in the UK as a human rights activist and Labour party member in the 1980s, has travelled to Russia to campaign against the country's strict anti-gay laws.

According to the 66-year-old's official Twitter account, he was arrested by police in Moscow while staging a one-man protest and subsequently taken to Tverskaya police station.

According to Sky News, Russian police described Tatchell's actions as an "illegal protest". He was said to be holding a demonstration near the city's Red Square area "to draw attention to human rights abuses against gay men in Chechnya".

The sign Tatchell was wearing around his neck read: "Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people".

Photo credit: Getty Images

In an article for The Guardian, written on Wednesday, the campaigner explained why he was heading to Russia for the sixth time.

"Each time, I’ve visited in order to support LGBT+ campaigners who were attempting to hold a Pride parade and festival. On every occasion these were suppressed by the authorities, sometimes violently. I’ve been arrested twice and once been beaten almost unconscious.

"I have come to Russia this week because President Vladimir Putin should not be allowed to score a PR coup with the world cup. Most LGBT+ people in Russia are understandably too afraid to openly protest against their persecution. They fear arrest and being attacked by extremists. I am afraid too, but to win freedom sometimes we have to be prepared to take risks."

The decision for awarding Russia the right to host the World Cup has been partly clouded by its poor record on human rights, including LGBT rights.

According to Amnesty International, despite the country decriminalising homosexuality in 1993, "LGBTI people continued to face discrimination and violence" last year.

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