LGBTIQ Rights Activist Arrested For Protest In Russia As World Cup Begins


Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell LGBTIQ rights Activist arrested in Russian

British LGBTIQ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been arrested and charged by Russian police after holding a one-man protest near the Kremlin during the FIFA World Cup.

The 66-year-old attempted to hold a peaceful one-man protest to draw attention to human rights abuses reportedly committed against gay men in the Russian region of Chechnya.

In video posted to social media, Mr Tatchell can be seen standing close to the Kremlin holding up a banner that read, “Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people.”

He was then approached by police officers who told him his protest was unauthorised, and he was led away and taken to a police car.

“My Moscow protest was in solidarity with heroic Russian and Chechen LGBT people. I salute and support their struggle,” Tatchell tweeted.

“The human rights abusing Putin regime must not be allowed to score a PR coup with the World Cup. There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime.”

Numerous gay men have spoken about the horrific torture and violence they suffered in secret prisons in Chechnya.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has repeatedly denied the accusations, going so far as to claim there are no gays in the region at all.

Tatchell said, “I was detained [by police] today but this was nothing compared to what happens to LGBT+ people in Chechnya: held without trial, tortured and sometimes killed.

“And that is why I protested. President Putin could stop this persecution but has failed to do so. Shame!”

The activist tweeted after his arrest that he had been released after less than two hours and “charged with violating Federal Law 54 and Presidential Decree 202, which prohibit all protests near the Kremlin and during World Cup”.

He said that he is due to appear in court on June 26 but had been told he would be free to leave the country on June 18 as planned.

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The FIFA World Cup kicked off in Moscow on Thursday, but the event’s staging in Russia has been controversial.

LGBTIQ football fans have been warned to be cautious about “publicly displaying their sexuality” at the event, after activists reported threats of anti-gay violence at the event.

Pride in Football, a UK-based alliance of LGBTIQ football fan groups, said they’d passed several threats onto police but would not boycott the tournament.

“If it’s safe to do so we’ll be taking rainbow flags, hopefully getting some form of visibility in stadiums to show that LGBT football fans do exist and, just as much as any fan, we’re a valid part of the game,” spokesperson Joe White said last month.

“Unless there is someone kind of putting their head above the parapet, it’s very easy for them to say we don’t exist.”