By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 19 2013 1:53 PM ET
A video posted to Russian social networking site VK documents a vicious assault on a transgender woman, in which five assailants laugh and high-five while stripping the woman half-naked and punching and kicking her in a park.
The graphic video was posted to the VK page for pro-LGBT group Straights for Equality, intending to highlight the growing anti-LGBT violence taking place in Russia since the parliament unanimously passed a law banning any discussion of "nontraditional sexual relations" that would be accessible to minors. President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law in June, along with a law prohibiting gay or lesbian foreign couples — or even single people from nations that embrace marriage equality — from adopting Russian orphans.
The video showing the brutal attack is available at Straights for Equality's VK page, though viewers should be warned it contains violent images that some may find disturbing.
The video was posted by anti-LGBT activists, with a title calling the woman a "homosexual," and noting the video was shot from the "view of 16 years," according to a Google translation of the original Russian. U.K. LGBT site PinkNews notes that it's unclear from the video how old the victim is or where, exactly, the video originated.
Anti-LGBT violence in Russia has been escalating in recent months, with LGBT Russians and tourists beaten, harassed, and arrested for allegedly violating the "propaganda" law. As Russia prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, there has been widespread confusion over how and if the homophobic law will be applied to Olympic athletes and visitors.
The International Olympic Committee has repeatedly said it's received assurances from the Russian government that the law won't affect the games, but also reminded would-be activists that the Olympic Charter prohibits any kind of "demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda" at all Olympic sites and events. The head of the U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed last week that athletes are expected to abide by the host country's laws, including the ban on so-called homosexual propaganda.
Several Russian lawmakers, including the sports minister and head of the nation's Olympic committee, have promised that the law will remain in force during the Winter games, which begin in February. Russia's deputy prime minister told local news outlet R-Sport that athletes and spectators will be safe from the law, so long as "a person does not put across his views in the presence of children," a broad and ill-defined qualifier, given the international and age-diverse audience of the Olympics.