In an effort to raise awareness about growing hostility towards LGBT people in Russia, activists protested outside the Russian Consulate in San Francisco on August 3, reports ABC.
The demonstration was in response to the country’s ban on homosexual “propaganda,” which was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin last month.
Most recently, four Dutch filmmakers were arrested in the country for attempting to shoot a documentary about the lives of LGBT Russians. And photos of a neo-Nazi group allegedly tormenting gay teens were spread online by the human rights group, Spectrum Human Rights Alliance. Peaceful protestors unfurling rainbow flags have been beaten by police and angry citizens in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and around the country.
"You start with the laws that start marginalizing and criminalizing entire groups of people and it's just outrageous," San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener told ABC. "And there needs to be more focus on this, and Russia needs to be forced to back off."
With the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, scheduled to take place next year, tension over Russia’s antigay laws has been steadily increasing. Though the International Olympic Committee claims it has received assurances from Russia's government that its so-called propaganda law won't be enforced during the Olympics against attendees or participants, other Russian legislators claim the government does not have the authority to suspend enforcement of the law.
Nevertheless, several out Olympic hopefuls say they don’t plan to hide who they are during the 2014 Winter Games. "I won't stop being Johnny Weir, the gay fabulous ice skater person walking down the street," U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir told ABC.
Additionally, out New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup said if he's chosen to represent his country in Sochi, he plans to wear the same rainbow pride pin he wore at the 2012 Olympic games, despite Russia’s laws banning the support of "non-traditional sexual relations."