Despite the continued persecution of the LGBT+ community, a new queer creative collective is emerging in Russia and Saint-Petersburg based creative director Roman Gunt along with photographer Nick Gavrilov has just released a photo series which looks to shine a light on the Russian underground queer creative community who are fighting for LGBT+ rights.
“If we want a better future for the new generations we need to stop being indifferent to what’s happening in our country,” Roman Gunt told Dazed.
The Human Rights Watch confirmed that Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law is having a damaging effect on children and young people.
Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the federal law into legislation in 2013, on the grounds that LGBT+ people pose a threat to the ‘traditional’ Russian family unit.
In December, the Human Rights Watch released a statement in which they outline the various ways in which Russia’s anti-LGBT+ laws put children and young people at serious risk:
“Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law is harming youth by cutting them off from vital information. Amid the intense social hostility surrounding LGBT people in Russia, the law stops mental health providers from counselling children who have questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The photo series, which debuted on Dazed, depicts nine straight and queer couples kissing against a backdrop of well-known and everyday Russian landmarks. This was a diffcult undertaking for Gunt and the same-sex couples being photographed kissing in public.
“I chose the most popular tourist spots not only for the backdrop of the photographs, but also to look at the reaction of the public. It was difficult for same-sex couples because we have no tolerance for same-sex relationships in Russia. We were surrounded by unfriendly glances, but surprisingly, no one approached or said anything to us,” Gunt says.
He continues, sharing how shooting the series almost got them arrested. “We were shooting in front of the building of The State Duma, which in 2013 passed the gay propaganda law, and we almost got arrested. Two police cars suddenly drove up to us and a few policemen started enquiring about what we are doing here. They told us to stop what we were doing otherwise they’d arrest us.”
LGBT+ people continue to face persecution in Russia. While same-sex relationships were decriminalized in 1993, Pride festivals are routinely denied permits while LGBT+ activists face arrest. Russia is ranked as the least protective country in Europe for LGBT+ citizens.
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