Russian LGBTIs risk arrest by holding public vigil for gay Holocaust victims.

They held the vigil on Victory Day, one of Russia’s most important holidays.

LGBTI activist Petr Voskresenskii holds a vigil for gay Holocaust victims | Photo: Supplied

In an act of brave defiance, a group of LGBTI Russians commemorated the gay victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Leading LGBTI activist Petr Voskresenskii secretly planned the event in St Petersburg held on Victory Day. The day is one of the most important holidays in Russia as it marks Nazi Germany’s surrender during World War II.

Russia celebrates the day with a parade through the Red Square in the capital Moscow. The parade is an opportunity to show off the country’s military might.

Voskresenskii and a small group laid flowers at the home of Sergey Nabokov whom the Nazis twice arrested on suspicion of homosexuality. He eventually died in a concentration camp in 1945, just months before the war ended.

‘According to the reports of the surviving prisoners in prison, Nabokov showed outstanding stamina, he helped the weak, shared food and clothing,’ Voskresenskii said.

The group also laid a pink triangle at his home. The pink triangle was a symbol the Nazis pinned to captives to identify them as homosexuals. It has since been reclaimed as a symbol of power by the LGBTI community.

Flowers and a pink triangle at the home of Sergey Nabokov who died in a Nazi concentration camp | Photo: Supplied

Why is this so brave?
Voskresenskii said the activists were ‘apprehensive’ about the public event. In 2013, Russia introduced the ‘gay propaganda’ law which banned the positive promotion of anything LGBTI.

Authorities have arrested LGBTI activists at Pride events across Russia. As recently as April police arrested 11 LGBTI activists during an annual Day of Silence protest.

Voskresenskii is also well known to police for his LGBTI activism and has been a target because of it.

‘The fact is that recently the authorities of St. Petersburg have been arresting people on any, even officially authorized actions, fining, making lists of activists,’ he said.

‘The activists were especially apprehensive about the fact that for the modern Russian authorities, Victory Day is a landmark holiday, one might even say “sacred”.

‘In fact, this is the first time in Russia when LGBT activists made an event on this day. This is primarily due to the fear of repression.’

Despite the apprehension the activists said the event took place without any problems.

‘On the contrary, passersby reacted positively to the action. The police fortunately was not around,’ Voskresenskii said.

The activist explained why the group decided to hold a public event and how it ties in to Russia’s opposition to Nazism.

‘We believe that the memory of the crimes of Nazism can protect the LGBT community in Russia,’ he said.

‘The authorities of Russia are publicly actively opposing themselves to Nazism. They claim that the fight against Nazism is an important value.

‘We want their words to correspond with their deeds. We want them to keep their promises.

‘In addition, we believe that historical memory helps the LGBT community to better understand themselves, helps to unite in the fight for a better future.’

The crimes of today
They also hoped drawing attention to the tragedies of the past can be an effective tool to combat the crimes of the present, including the ‘gay purge’ happening in Chechnya.

Chechen authorities have rounded up people on suspicion of being LGBTI, torturing and in some cases, executing them. But Russia has not spoken out or acted to stop the ongoing persecution.

‘Political leaders in the Kremlin have repeatedly stated that the fight against Nazism is one of the priorities of their policies, and they consider the victory in World War II one of the main historical achievements of the country,’ Voskresenskii said.

‘Human rights activists are calling on the Russian authorities to back up their words with a deed and stop violence against LGBT people.’

We’re inviting you to make a difference today by donating to the Chechyna Appeal.

Every dollar, euro and pound you give will help evacuate LGBTI people in the most danger. And to pressure the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution.


Why we need to talk more about mental health issues in the LGBTQ community.

Why is mental health such an issue in LGBTQ communities?
People in the LGBTQ community may be more susceptible to mental health issues due to a range of factors such as discrimination – which can include verbal bullying, physical abuse and inequalities – as well as isolation, homophobia and hate crime. Research nationwide has found that people from the LGBTQ community are more at risk of suicidal behaviour and self-harm and that they are more likely to develop depression and anxiety compared to the rest of the population.

For some people ‘coming out’ can be a liberating experience but if you come out and experience rejection, it can affect your sense of worth. This may lead to people feeling that they have to hide their real self which may cause a decline in their mental wellbeing and increase stress.

Fortunately, there is a growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the UK in recent years which is helping to combat such issues.

Why is it important to speak out about mental health issues?
Stigma, shame and embarrassment, or any feelings you may be experiencing that your GP or counsellor may not understand, are just a few factors that may prevent someone seeking help. It’s important to speak out about any mental health concerns as containing your emotions for too long can have serious implications both mentally and physically. These emotions can build up and if you do not find a release, can bubble up and weigh on you mentally.

If you have experienced any of the following symptoms, you could benefit from seeking help:

  • Feel constantly tired or have a lack of energy.
  • Feel fearful.
  • Shut yourself away from people.
  • No longer want to do things you may have enjoyed.
  • Use alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings.
  • Have harmed yourself or have thoughts about self-harming.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone, if you are not ready to speak with friends of family you could seek help from LGBT support groups. Here you will be given the opportunity to share your feelings and experiences with others and given advice of where to seek further help, if needed. Don’t suffer in silence, you should get help as soon as you feel the need. Regardless of how big or small your issues may seem, there will always be someone to help.

What can be the result if a mental health issue is left unresolved?
Mental illness is different from some physical illnesses in that they are not often physically identifiable. However, like many physical illnesses, they do not simply ‘go away’ over time and often the longer they persist they harder they will be to treat. People with depression, for example, might only experience a handful of symptoms on a few days to start off with, but if left untreated these may expand and become more frequent. This can start to affect your daily life, your work, your relationships and your family life, the result of these problems leads on to knock-on effects.

Do you have any practical tips for managing your mental health?
It can feel as if you are on your own, but do not see mental illness as a lack of coping skills or personal failure. Just because people may not see what is going on in your head, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not happening for you. I would suggest speaking to someone as soon as you start feeling something isn’t right, whether it is a partner, family member or a professional.

There are professionals out there trained to help you. Some practical advice for managing your mental health is:

  • Getting enough of sleep is important for both your physical and mental health, I recommend 6-8 hours.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid smoking and drugs, particularly after drinking as they can leave you more anxious and depressed the next day.
  • It’s important to also know what triggers your stress and looking for ways to avoid these or cope is key in maintaining good mental health. Activity and exercise can help but also doing something you enjoy in your day to day routine.

What should you do if you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health?
Talking to someone when you are struggling with your mental wellbeing may seem difficult, however it is often the first step to take when you are going through a hard time. If someone has spoken to you about how they are feeling and you feel they may benefit from looking at some treatment options, work together and plan what is best suited for their need. It is important to give them space to talk and listen to how they are feeling. While it may be upsetting to hear that someone you care about is distressed, you should be patient and remain calm as it may be difficult for them to express their feelings and it may take a while. It may help to actively research support groups and possibly go to appointments (even if it is just the first one) with them if you can and offer your help where possible.

What is the best course of action/what are the treatment options for someone struggling with their mental health?
There are specially trained networks, such as the Albert Kennedy trust or Imaan, which help to support those in LGBTQ communities. There are also low cost or free counselling services available which can be found online or by asking local LGBT services in your town. Counselling may be helpful as it gives people an opportunity to work together with the therapist on coping-strategies. If you feel the depression or anxiety is affecting you and you feel counselling or medication may not help, there are drug-free, non-intrusive treatments such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) available. This form of treatment uses targeted magnetic pulses to stimulate the areas of the brain affected by mental health conditions to reduce symptoms.


Gay men ‘electrocuted and strung up by legs’ in new wave of torture in Chechnya, says human rights group.

Four men who fled conservative region say they were beaten and humiliated for up to 20 days with limited water.

Gay men are being electrocuted and strung up by their legs in a new wave of torture in Chechnya, according to a human rights group.

Human Rights Watch said it interviewed four gay men who claimed they fled the conservative, predominantly Muslim region after police allegedly beat and shocked them with electric currents while they were strung up by their legs.

The international group, headquartered in New York, said the accounts made by the men, who were allegedly detained for between three and 20 days between December 2018 and February 2019, were consistent with a complaint an LGBT+ activist filed in January.

Also, in January this year, a warning appeared on social media urging all vulnerable men and women to flee Chechnya as it was feared a new “anti-gay purge” was underway.

In 2017, activists said more than 100 gay men were detained and tortured in Chechnya during a “purge”, and that some were killed.

There was no immediate comment on the report from Chechen officials, who rejected the allegations in 2017.

Human Rights Watch said in a report on Wednesday that the men it interviewed reported being beaten, humiliated and held for up to 20 days with limited water.

The four said interrogators also demanded information about other gay men in Chechnya, according to the organisation.

One man said he had been living elsewhere but returned to Chechnya to attend a family wedding.

In the evening, he met a man he’d connected with through a dating app, and police arrived and took him away. The man said he believed he was set up.

Human Rights Watch said it thought the 2017 mistreatment of gay men was not adequately investigated.

Tanya Lokshina, the organisation’s associate director for Europe and Central Asia, said: “The absolute impunity for the anti-gay purge of 2017 emboldens the perpetrators.

“We have absolutely no evidence these round-ups were sanctioned by top-level Chechen leadership, but the police officials clearly felt at liberty to hold and torture those men.”

Homosexuality is decriminalised in Russia, but animosity towards sexual minorities still widely persists.


En banlieue, les agressions contre des homosexuels se multiplient.

Version on ENG.

Depuis plusieurs années, les agressions très violentes contre les personnes homosexuelles se multiplient dans la banlieue des grandes villes. Enquête sur un phénomène qui alarme associations et autorités.

A spokesman of the ‘Stop Homophobie’ association Lyes Alouane poses during a photo session in Paris on November 27, 2018. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

L’agression a eu lieu dans la nuit du 4 au 5 mars 2019. Kevin, 32 ans, descend de sa voiture tout juste garée dans une résidence privée de Drancy, au nord de Paris. Trois jeunes gens fondent sur lui, le frappent à la tête, le jettent à terre puis le rouent de coups de pied. Un coup de couteau lui perfore le poumon. Malgré tout, Kevin parvient à déclencher l’alarme de sa voiture, ce qui met fin à l’agression.

Trois jours plus tôt, le trentenaire était entré en contact, via un site de rencontres, avec un homme de 27 ans. Les deux internautes, qui échangent des messages pendant 72 heures, décident de se donner rendez-vous. « Il avait justifié l’heure tardive en disant qu’il travaillait dans un restaurant, raconte aujourd’hui Kevin, qui subit encore les séquelles de son agression. Nous avions parlé de nos vies et de nos projets professionnels. À aucun moment je ne me suis méfié. » Depuis l’attaque, ses agresseurs ont été arrêtés. Kevin a alors découvert que c’est précisément cet homme qui l’a poignardé. « Je savais que ces guets-apens existaient, mais je pensais que ça n’arrivait qu’aux autres », souffle la victime.

345 agressions en banlieue en 2018.

Drancy, Gennevilliers, Chanteloup-les-Vignes, en région parisienne mais aussi Vénissieux, près de Lyon, les agressions physiques contre les personnes homosexuelles, particulièrement violentes, se sont multipliées ces dernières années. Officiellement, il n’existe pas de chiffres du phénomène, tant ces attaques sont difficiles à recenser. Réticences des victimes à porter plainte, classements sans suite par manque de preuves… Des associations établissent toutefois des décomptes à partir des demandes d’aide. Sur les 1 277 « dénonciations d’agressions physiques » recensées en 2018 par Stop Homophobie, 672 ont eu lieu en Île-de-France, dont 345 en banlieue.

« Il s’agit principalement de guet-apens », commente Terrence Katchadourian, le secrétaire général de l’association, qui a assisté 78 personnes lors de procès. De son côté, le ministère de la justice enregistre très peu de condamnations : « En 2017, 25 condamnations ont été prononcées pour des atteintes aux personnes aggravées en raison de l’orientation sexuelle ou de l’identité de genre de la victime », précise-t-on à la Chancellerie, qui estime que « ces chiffres sont probablement peu représentatifs du phénomène ». Et précise : « Ces faits peuvent aussi être poursuivis et sanctionnés comme des violences volontaires avec arme, en réunion. »

« Le guet-apens, un phénomène répandu ».

Une source proche de Matignon donne d’autres éléments d’analyse. « Il n’y a pas forcément plus d’agressions, mais elles sont nettement plus violentes », dit-elle, s’inquiétant du « phénomène répandu des guets-apens, via des applications de rencontre ».

Comment l’expliquer ? Pour Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, imam, sociologue et l’un des fondateurs de l’association Homosexuels musulmans de France (aujourd’hui disparue), le problème « est avant tout socioéconomique. Lorsque le niveau d’éducation est faible et que l’accès à l’emploi est restreint, cela aboutit à un phénomène de désignations de bouc émissaire, qui cible toujours les minorités. » Selon lui, « le religieux n’est pas un facteur déterminant » des violences.

« Un homosexuel arabe, c’est la honte de la communauté ».

Une analyse que ne partage pas Mehdi Aifa, président de l’Amicale du Refuge (regroupant d’anciens pensionnaires de l’association du Refuge, qui vient en aide aux jeunes homosexuels chassés de leur famille). « Il y a de l’homophobie partout en France, mais elle est évidemment beaucoup plus violente en banlieue, en particulier dans des quartiers où il y a une concentration de population d’origine maghrébine et de confession musulmane. Dans ces banlieues, être homosexuel et maghrébin est incompatible. Un homosexuel arabe, c’est la honte de la communauté. »

Le jeune homme, qui a vécu à Vénissieux, poursuit : « J’ai en tête des dizaines d’histoires de gens que l’on essaye de faire changer d’orientation sexuelle en organisant des rencontres, voire des mariages forcés. Pour eux, soit on perd sa famille et sa communauté, soit on accepte le mariage et on entre dans une double-vie. On ne peut nier qu’en l’occurrence, l’islam fasse partie du problème. » Ce responsable associatif porte un discours très dur envers les responsables communautaires et religieux et ne croit pas à un dialogue possible avec les imams.

« Casser du pédé est devenu une fierté ».

Brahim Naït-Balk, lui, y croit au contraire. « Le combat se joue aussi dans le champ religieux. Je veux rencontrer des imams, faire venir des responsables musulmans à mes conférences pour qu’ils entendent mon témoignage. » Âgé de 56 ans, cet éducateur sportif d’origine marocaine retrace d’une voix posée les épreuves qu’il a traversées lors de sa jeunesse à Aulnay-sous-Bois. Les fellations et les viols imposés, pendant sept ans, par un groupe de jeunes de sa cité. Son silence par peur des représailles, notamment vis-à-vis de ses frères et sœurs. Il a quitté la ville de Seine-Saint-Denis à 31 ans puis raconté son histoire en 2009, dans une biographie (1), qui l’a « sauvé du suicide », dit-il.

Aujourd’hui, quand il ne travaille pas comme directeur départemental handisport des Hauts-de-Seine, il multiplie les conférences dans les écoles. « J’arrive à faire changer progressivement les regards », estime-t-il, même s’il ne cache pas son inquiétude face à une forme de « montée de l’intégrisme. La violence est gratuite, très répandue. Casser du pédé est devenu une fierté. »

« Certains me guettaient en bas de chez moi pour me traiter de “sale pédé” ».

Son récit recoupe le témoignage de Lyès Alouane, 23 ans. En 2016, le jeune homme, qui habitait Gennevilliers, près de Paris, avait affiché sur son profil Facebook une photo de lui et de son compagnon. Dès le lendemain, les insultes ont commencé à pleuvoir dans son quartier. « Le bouche-à-oreille a joué dans toute la cité, raconte le délégué de l’association Stop Homophobie pour l’Île-de-France. On me disait que j’allais aller en enfer, que l’homosexualité était “haram”, que j’étais dégueulasse. Certains me guettaient en bas de chez moi pour me traiter de sale pédé. »

Une partie de sa famille cesse de lui parler. « Ils auraient préféré que je me cache. Ma mère me lançait : “Moi, si je faisais le trottoir, je ne le dirais pas.” » Dans le quartier, il connaît bien ses agresseurs : l’un des meneurs était en 5e avec lui. En deux ans, il dépose 22 plaintes. Il est aussi victime d’un guet-apens à Saint-Denis, après une rencontre sur Facebook. « Je m’en suis sorti avec 4 points de suture au crâne. » Il a depuis déménagé, trouvant refuge à Paris, chez une amie. Ses agresseurs doivent être jugés en juin.

Peu de condamnations.

Depuis janvier 2017, commettre une infraction en raison de l’orientation sexuelle constitue une circonstance aggravante, applicable à toutes les infractions punies d’emprisonnement (meurtre, acte de torture et de barbarie, agression sexuelle, violences, vol, menaces, extorsions, etc.).

Le nombre de condamnations pour de telles infractions (atteintes aux personnes aggravées en raison de l’orientation sexuelle ou de l’identité de genre de la victime, soit atteinte à la vie, violences, menaces) reste faible. La justice française a ainsi condamné 25 personnes en 2017, 39 en 2016, 22 en 2015, 26 en 2014 et 29 en 2013.


In the suburbs, assaults against homosexuals multiply.

Version on FR.

For several years, very violent attacks against homosexuals are multiplying in the suburbs of big cities. Investigation of a phenomenon that alarms associations and authorities.

A spokesman of the ‘Stop Homophobie’ association Lyes Alouane poses during a photo session in Paris on November 27, 2018. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

The attack took place on the night of 4 to 5 March 2019. Kevin, 32, gets out of his car just parked in a private residence in Drancy, north of Paris. Three young men fall on him, beat him in the head, throw him to the ground and then kick him. A stab wounds his lung. Nevertheless, Kevin manages to trigger the alarm of his car, which ends the aggression.

Three days earlier, the 30-year-old had made contact, via a dating site, with a 27-year-old man. The two Internet users, who exchange messages for 72 hours, decide to make an appointment. “He had justified the late hour by saying that he worked in a restaurant, says Kevin today, who is still suffering the effects of his aggression. We had talked about our lives and our professional projects. At no time was I suspicious. ” Since the attack, the assailants were arrested. Kevin then discovered that it was precisely this man who stabbed him. “I knew that these ambushes existed, but I thought it only happened to others,” the victim blows.

345 assaults in the suburbs in 2018.

Drancy, Gennevilliers, Chanteloup-les-Vignes, in the Paris region but also Vénissieux, near Lyon, physical aggression against homosexual people, particularly violent, have multiplied in recent years. Officially, there are no figures of the phenomenon, as these attacks are difficult to identify. Reluctance of victims to lodge a complaint, rankings without follow-up due to lack of evidence … However, associations draw up accounts based on requests for help. Of the 1,277 “denunciations of physical assaults” identified in 2018 by Stop Homophobie, 672 took place in Île-de-France, including 345 in the suburbs.

“It’s mainly ambush,” said Terrence Katchadourian, the association’s secretary general, who assisted 78 people in court cases. For its part, the Ministry of Justice records very few convictions: “In 2017, 25 convictions were for aggravated offenses against persons because of sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim” , says Does the Chancellery say that “these figures are probably not very representative of the phenomenon” . And states: “These facts can also be prosecuted and punished as intentional violence with weapons, in meetings. “

“The ambush, a widespread phenomenon”.

A source close to Matignon gives other elements of analysis. “There is not necessarily more aggression, but they are much more violent,” she says, worrying about the “widespread phenomenon of ambushes, via dating applications . “

How to explain it? For Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, imam, sociologist and one of the founders of the Association Muslims Muslims of France (now extinct), the problem “is primarily socio-economic. When the level of education is low and access to employment is restricted, this leads to a phenomenon of scapegoating, which still targets minorities. ” According to him, ” the religious is not a determining factor ” of the violence.

“An Arab homosexual is the shame of the community”.

An analysis that does not share Mehdi Aifa, president of the Amicale du Refuge (gathering former residents of the Refuge Association, which helps young homosexuals driven out of their families). “There is homophobia everywhere in France, but it is obviously much more violent in the suburbs, especially in neighborhoods where there is a concentration of people of Maghrebi origin and Muslim faith. In these suburbs, being homosexual and Maghreb is incompatible. An Arab homosexual is the shame of the community. “

The young man, who lived in Vénissieux, continues: “I have in mind dozens of stories of people who are trying to change their sexual orientation by organizing meetings, or even forced marriages. For them, either we lose our family and our community, we accept the marriage and we enter a double life. It can not be denied that in this case Islam is part of the problem. ” This associative charge carries a very tough speech to community and religious leaders and does not believe in a possible dialogue with imams.

“Breaking the fag has become a pride”.

Brahim Nait-Balk, on the contrary, believes in it. “The fight is also played out in the religious field. I want to meet imams, bring Muslim leaders to my conferences to hear my testimony. ” Aged 56, the sports teacher of Moroccan origin traces a calm voice the hardships he went through during his youth in Aulnay-sous-Bois. Blowjobs and rapes imposed for seven years by a group of young people from his city. His silence for fear of reprisals, especially vis-à-vis his brothers and sisters. He left the city of Seine-Saint-Denis at age 31 and told his story in 2009, in a biography (1), which “saved him from suicide,” he says.

Today, when he does not work as a departmental director of the Hauts-de-Seine department, he multiplies conferences in schools. “I can gradually change the eyes,” he believes, although he does not hide his concern about a form of “rise of fundamentalism. Violence is free, widespread. Breaking the fag has become a pride. “

“Some people were waiting for me at the bottom of my house to call me ” dirty homo “.

His story cuts across the testimony of Lyès Alouane, 23 years old. In 2016, the young man, who lived in Gennevilliers, near Paris, posted on his Facebook profile a picture of him and his companion. The next day, insults began to rain in his neighborhood. “Word-of-mouth has played throughout the city, says the delegate of the association Stop Homophobia for the Île-de-France. I was told that I was going to hell, that homosexuality was “haram”, that I was disgusting. Some were watching me downstairs to call me a dirty homo. “

Part of his family stops talking to him. “They would have preferred me to hide. My mother threw me: “If I was doing the sidewalk, I would not tell.” ” In the district, he knows his attackers: one of the leaders was 5 th with him. In two years, he filed 22 complaints. He is also the victim of a trap in Saint-Denis, after a meeting on Facebook. “I got away with 4 stitches in the skull. ” He has since moved, taking refuge in Paris with a friend. His attackers must be tried in June.

Few convictions.

Since January 2017, committing an offense on the basis of sexual orientation constitutes an aggravating circumstance, applicable to all offenses punishable by imprisonment (murder, torture and barbarism, sexual assault, violence, theft, threats, extortion, etc. .).

The number of convictions for such offenses (attacks on persons aggravated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity, life, violence, threats) remains low. French justice has sentenced 25 people in 2017, 39 in 2016, 22 in 2015, 26 in 2014 and 29 in 2013.