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British Activist Peter Tatchell is Using the World Cup as a Platform

It’s the first day of the World Cup in Russia and probably what will be flooding your news and social media feeds for the next month. But with the platform comes a great responsibility for those who have an opportunity to send a message. Take British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, for instance. On the first day of the World Cup, Tatchell held a one-man protest to draw attention to human rights abuse committed against gay men in Chechnya.

A story that we have been following with the rest of the world for over a year, Tatchell has held similar protests around the world.

Tatchell held a sign that read: Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people.

After an hour and 40 minutes standing in central Moscow, Tatchell was detained by police according to Reuters.

Tatchell shared with Reuters:

Senior officers were stern but the apprehending officer very helpful, friendly and polite.

I presume I was well treated, partly because I am a British citizen and because a senior British Embassy consular official... contacted the police. I guess the Russians also did not want to be seen as being heavy-handed during the World Cup.

President Putin has failed to condemn and act against the homophobic witch-hunts in Chechnya, which have seen scores of LGBT+ people arrested and tortured, with some even being killed.

The British Embassy supported Tatchell during the process.

The activist will appear in court on June 26 as he is accused of breaking a federal law on the holding of public meetings and demonstrations in addition to a presidential decree that prohibits protests during the World Cup.

h/t: ReutersPeter TatchellBritish Embassy

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Okay, may I ask:  Did any members of the Russian gay community ask him to do this?  This was described as a "one-man protest" but Mr. Tatchell says that he is "[g]lad to stand in solidarity with Russian & Chechen LGBTs."  I'm sorry, but where were they?  Doesn't "solidarity" connote working together?  I'm glad he's trying to bring the plight of the LGBT communities in Russia to the attention of the world, but his actions ring hollow if there are no native Russians participating.  You cannot impose your beliefs on others from the outside no matter how commendable they may be.  Gay rights in Russia will only progress from within.  All this stunt does is make it appear like the West is once again imposing its moral order on people who neither asked for nor wanted it.  He might actually be doing more harm than good to gay Russians.  But, when you are a professional activist, that doesn't matter, just the purity of your message and actions.

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