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Three LGBT Activists Survive Harrowing Experience in Russia

Three LGBT Activists Survive Harrowing Experience in Russia

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A trio of young Russians took to the streets to show their support for LGBT equality this weekend. They were met by 100 violent homophobes.

A trio of LGBT rights activists was swarmed by about 100 angry, antigay nationalists in the southern Russian city of Lipetsk last weekend, reports The Moscow Times.

Despite a nationwide ban on the "promotion" of so-called gay propaganda, young LGBT Russians remain defiant -- including the two young women and one man who carried pro-LGBT banners and a Pride flag to the town's central square on Sunday.

"[We are] fighting homophobia, discrimination and violations of the Constitution and of the rights of LGBT people," one of the women who said her name was Reida Linn, told local news site LR News.

Local police protected the protesters from the mob, arresting one man who lobbed a tomato at the trio of LGBT rights demonstrators. The man said the LGBT rights protesters had no place on Russian soil.

Police eventually put the three activists into a van for their protection as the crowd grew more volatile, according to The Moscow Times. But that's when things got really bad: police had to call in reinforcements to repel the mob, who began rocking the van and threatening to tip it over -- with police and the LGBT activists inside.

The crowd was ultimately contained, and remarkably, no injuries were reported.

Although TheMoscow Times appears to imply that the activists had municipal permission to hold their rally, it is nearly impossible for LGBT activists to do anything is Russia without being harassed, arrested, or worse. Even non-activist lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people walk a tightrope in Vladimir Putin's Russia, thanks to a draconian antigay law enacted in 2013, that bans the promotion of so-called called gay propaganda.

While the law purports to be aimed strictly at preventing the "promotion" of "nontraditional sexual relations" in forums that are open to minors, it is often used a pretense to stifle any discussion of LGBT identities or pride. The law has been blamed for fostering increasingly violent homophobia in Russia, yet has been repeatedly upheld by the Russian constitutional court.

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