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Brutal Attacks on Russian Gays Revealed in Documentary

<p>Graphic video footage shows impunity of homophobic violence ahead of the Sochi Winter Games.</p>
An anti-gay protester clashes with a gay rights activist during a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg
An anti-gay protester (front) clashes with a gay rights activist during a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia in June 2013. Alexander Demianchuk / REUTERS, file

LONDON – A new British television documentary airing on Channel 4 in the U.K. Wednesday shows graphic footage of violent homophobic attacks in Russia in the run-up to the Sochi winter Olympics.

The documentary’s name, “Hunted,” comes from comments by a man who was beaten up and shot during an attack on a gay community center in St. Petersburg in November. “It’s like a hunting season,” he says. “And we are the hunted.”

Last year Russia passed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality – widely seen as an attack on gay rights. The law makes providing information on homosexuality to under-18 year olds a crime.

“The LGBT community in Russia has been turned into public enemy number one,” said Liz MacKean, the investigative journalist behind the documentary. “And the fact is they are hunted, they are assaulted, they are humiliated.”

The film focuses on attacks by two Russian anti-gay vigilante groups, “Parents of Russia” and “Occupy Pedophilia.”

“The law clearly encouraged hostility towards gays,” said MacKean. “The LGBT community is being squeezed from the forces above by the government that passed the law, by comments from Putin, like saying that gay people are welcome in Sochi if they leave the children alone… its creating such a direct connection between pedophilia and homosexuality.”

Human Rights Watch has also posted a collection of shocking video clips of homophobic violence that are actually used as propaganda for violent anti-gay groups. “What we see in those video are criminal offenses happening in the context of complete impunity,” said Human Rights Watch Tanya Cooper. “There is total failure on the part of Russia’s law enforcement to prosecute attack against LGBT people.”