Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pride Solidarity Supports Day of Silence in St Petersburg

Around 50 people - members and friends of the Russian LGBT organization “Coming Out” (Vychod) - joined the international LGBT Youth initiative, the Day of Silence, to protest against the silence created by discrimination, humiliation and violence faced by LGBT people during their education. They were joined by Clare B Dimyon MBE of PRIDE Solidarity, a experienced teacher who is all too familiar with homophobia in British schools.

Russia has participated in the Day of Silence since 2008.

This ground-breaking enterprise in Russia was undertaken in three parts:

1) Day of Silence posters were placed on notice boards where students would see them

2) On 15 April (yesterday) leaflets were sent by fax to the city administration, the courts and prosecutor's office, dean's offices of universities and major media of the city. In total 120 faxes were sent.

3) On Sat 16 April, at 14:00 around 50 people gathered on the world famous Nevsky Prospekt and sealed their mouths with red tape. For over an hour they walked over 2km handing out leaflets explaining the “Day of Silence” as a protest against the harassment and discrimination faced by young LGBT people.

1200 leaflets were produced and none remained at the end of the action creating the most successful outreach action to ordinary people and officials ever seen in Russia.

Igor Kochetkov, director of Vychod (“Coming Out”) said: "We were silent and we were heard. What we, as LGBTactivists, see on the streets of St Petersburg, is more and more understanding of the unacceptability of violence and humiliation of human dignity."

Clare Dimyon MBE said: “It was a great privilege to take part in this action and while it was clear that participants were apprehensive, I certainly was, it was amazing to see that the reaction of the St Petersburg public was interested, even positive and a few even joined the flash mob. I was impressed by the thoughtful and efficient organisation of this action but especially by the young LGBT people who were taking part in an open action for the very first time. I was so very PROUD of them. It was also great that these LGBT History Makers were wearing the LGBT History Month badges that I brought from the UK.”

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