When Russian President Vladimir Putin banned gay "propaganda" in June last year, Russia's LGBT community went from being a stigmatized fringe group to full-blown enemies of the state. Homophobia becoming legislation means it’s now not only accepted in Russia but actively encouraged, which has led to a depressing rise in homophobic attacks and murders.
The main aim of the law, which essentially bans any public display of homosexuality, is to prevent minors from getting the impression that being gay is normal. Which means that, if you’re young and gay in Putin’s Russia, you’re ostracized and cut off from any kind of legal support network.
We traveled to Russia ahead of February's Sochi Winter Olympics to investigate the effects of the country's state-sanctioned homophobia. We take a ride in Moscow's gay taxi service, hear about the rise of homophobic vigilante groups, and meet Yulia, who runs LGBT self-defense classes.
For further information on some of the issues raised, please visit www.stonewall.org.uk/international.