While sunbathers lounged on St. Petersburg’s Field of Mars on a scorching summer day, a different crowd wrapped in rainbow flags gathered at the park for a different reason: to defend their rights.
Around one hundred activists waving rainbow flags and banners gathered at midday on Saturday to mark St. Petersburg’s eighth Gay Pride, in what organizers said was the largest turnout since 2010. They were watched closely by riot police.
“Everyone has his own reason to come to the pride,” says Sveta, a lesbian activist. “Many of my friends didn’t come because they were afraid to be discriminated at work, to lose their job or get expelled from university.”
Since the introduction of a so-called “gay propaganda” law in 2013, the LGBT community has been increasingly marginalized. The law punishes disseminating information considered to be “homosexual propaganda” with a fine of up to 500,000 rubles ($8,000).