A new video, which emerged online today, offers a glimpse of the protest by and eventual arrest of a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activists in Russia.
Carrying a sign that reportedly translates as, “Hitler also began with the gays. No to fascism in Russia,” the protestors are confronted by the police and then targeted for arrest.
At one point in the video, an older female bystander attempts to intervene in the arrest, reportedly telling officers, "You can't act like that!" According to the New York Times, the translated dialogue between the bystander and the activists involves the woman trying to get another witness to stop the officers. However, after one of the activists informs the older woman that they are attempting to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, she reportedly responds by stating:
The older woman says: “Ohhhhhhhh no. Then no.”
The protester responds, “Hitler started with the gays.”
The older woman says, “This is the decline of morality.”
The activists were protesting Russia's recent crackdown on LGBT citizens, which has ranged from an anti-gay "propaganda" law passed earlier this year to a recently proposed bill that would remove the children of LGBT parents from their homes. Russia is also reportedly taking steps to bar gay couples or couples in gay-friendly countries from adopting Russian children, with officials taking steps to cease all adoptions to Sweden.
Institutionalized homophobia in Russia has enabled and perpetuated a pervasive climate of fear and violence for LGBT citizens, who have been subject to brutal public attacks and private acts of torture. However, it has also inspired heroic acts of courage, such as a top Russian lawyer coming out as transgender and announcing her campaign for the Russian presidency in 2018.
In the above video, after the arrest of the protestors and their violent transfer to the back seat of a squad car, an officer can be heard telling the female bystander, “We warned him.”