On Saturday 22nd April at 3pm at The Spot in Derby City Centre around twenty members of the LGBT+ community and allies came together to grieve and show solidarity for gay men and other LGBT+ individuals who are being persecuted Chechnya, Russia.
Freyja, one of our Site Leaders; a member of the LGBT+ community themselves, gave a short speech welcoming people and giving background to the event. There were songs of solidarity sung and played on guitar, poems about homophobia and love were read out, candles were lit, flags were waved and people chalked messages of solidarity on the pavement for others to read. Below is the speech and photos from the event.
We’d like to thank everybody who came and supported the event including Derbyshire LGBT+ and thank you for your donations to the Russian LGBT Network for whom we raised £50/E60 to go towards their work evacuating those deemed at risk from Chechnya.
“All of you will know why we are having this rally today; but we wanted to say a few words. We’re here to grieve and show solidarity for the gay (and other members of the LGBT+ community) who have been persecuted by the authorities in Chechnya, Russia. It is with regret and sadness that we are again grieving our brothers again as we did our brothers, sisters, siblings less than a year ago after the Pulse nightclub shooting.
All these men were trying to do was organise a Pride event that we organise here and often take for granted on an annual basis. However because of the rife homophobia they were protesting against in which Chechen LGBT+ individuals are cut off from their families, or worse, these men have been rounded up and put in camps which echo Nazi Germany’s treatment of LGBT+ individuals in concentration camps. They have been humiliated, tortured and some even killed. The Chechen authorities deny all knowledge of this anti-gay purge but messages have now reached the rest of the world.
We’re here today because LGBT+ individuals before us have fought for our freedom, and we continue to fight for our rights! We can stand up, make a noise, raise awareness and challenge what is happening in Chechnya! It’s the year 2017 and all people should be able to express themselves freely! This is why our Pride marches and events are still necessary and important because some people still hold these draconian, obsolete anti-LGBT+ views and straight privilege still exists. We must remember Pride’s origin as a protest as well as a celebration. Pride is not a commercialised commodity! Pride is about togetherness, and it is about protecting ourselves and our futures. It is with a vow that we look forward to Derbyshire LGBT+ Pride in September.
So what can you do to help? You can help by going to the event page for this rally and completing petitions we have posted against what is happening and you can also write to the Russian embassy. At the end of the rally we’ll be holding a collection for the Russian LGBT Network who are working directly to evacuate gay men from Chechnya into safety.”