A killer was acquitted in Russia earlier this month, even though he stabbed a gay man who later bled to death.
Roman Yedalov left a gay club in Moscow with his partner shortly before receiving a knife to the heart. The 47 year-old was attacked by Anton Berezhnoi, a war veteran with a criminal record.
Yedalov’s partner, Yevgeny Yefimov, said he had not experienced any violence or hostility until the incident outside the club last June. Yefimov was checking a taxi-hailing app when a man began to shout homophobic slurs at him after which he was dealt a blow to the head.
Berezhnoi had knocked down both men and fled. When Yedalov stood up, he was stabbed and ultimately killed.
Despite admitting guilt – Berezhnoi said Yedalov “fell on the knife” – he was acquitted by a jury. The killer will only be under house arrest for 23 months in Russia, despite murdering a gay man.
“No prison sentence can bring Roman back,” Yefimov said. “But I want justice.” The couple’s lawyer blamed the verdict on the wording of a question the jury had to take into consideration.
Not long after the case closed, Russian president Vladimir Putin made it clear that he would never legalise same-sex marriage.
Last Thursday, Putin spoke at a commission discussing changes for the Russian constitution. He said the constitution would keep gender-specific language to illustrate the country’s opposition to same-sex relationships.
“As far as ‘parent number one’ and ‘parent number two’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: As long as I’m president this will not happen,” he said.
Putin – who has been leading Russia since 2000 – said he would also consider changing the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
The Russian government has long opposed LGBT+ rights; in 2013 they introduced a law which prohibited “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships”.
Official statistics on LGBT+ hate crimes are not kept by the Russian government, but an advocacy group, Stimul, recorded 13 hate crimes against LGBT+ last year. Analysts say actual figures are most likely much higher, as most incidents are not reported.
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