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Peter Tatchell detained in Russia ahead of World Cup over LGBT protest

The British LGBT activist was arrested in Moscow on Thursday (June 14).

2018-06-14

British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell was detained by police in Russia on Thursday (June 14) ahead of the FIFA World Cup.

The veteran human rights was staging a one-man protest over Russia's treatment of LGBT people near Red Square, Moscow, where he was soon approached by several policeman.

Tatchell, who had been holding a sign which read 'Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people', was taken to taken to nearby Tverskaya Police Station, where he was later released on bail after being charged with breaking a law prohibiting all protests near the Kremlin and during the World Cup.

 

After initially being told he would have to appear in court on June, Mr Tatchell, 66, says he has been told he is free to leave Russia as planned on Monday (June 18).

In a statement issued prior to the protest, Tatchell, who has been arrested over protests in Russia several times before, said highlighted the ongoing repression of LGBT+ people in the country.

"I was exercising my lawful right to protest, under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and the right to protest in Articles 29 and 31.

"A one-person protest, which is what I did, requires no permission from the authorities and the police.

"Getting arrested is standard for Russians who protest for LGBT+ rights or against corruption, economic injustice and Russia's annexation of Crimea and its bombing of civilians in Syria.

"My fate was mild compared to what often happens to Russians who dare to challenge the Putin regime. I am awed by their courage."

Speaking from Moswcow following his release, he said: "I am required to appear in court on 26 June for violating Federal Law 54 and Presidential Decree 202, which prohibit all protests near the Kremlin and during the World Cup.

 

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, of which Tatchell is a patron, said he was "dismayed" to hear of the activist's arrest.

"Peter is a great example of a humanist who relentlessly stands up for human rights, risking his health and safety to speak truth to power - including to some of the world's most powerful human rights-abusing regimes.

"Russia might want to silence those who shine a spotlight on its human rights abuses, but brave campaigners like Peter will always be here to hold them to account."

In an attempt to highlight the continued persecution of LGBT+ in Russia and help raise money for LGBT+ causes, British bookmaker Paddy Power have promised to donate £10,000 to the Attitude Foundation for every goal the Russia team score during the World Cup.

As well as turning the Russian squad into accidental allies, the 'From Russia With Love' campaign will raise vital funds for LGBT+ organisations working to challenge prejudice on and off the field after Paddy Power pledge a minimum £50,000 donation.

Meanwhile, the Football Supporters' Federation, together with the Football Association (FA), and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has warned LGBT football fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup not to "publicly display" their sexuality.