A large and noisy group of pro-LGBT rights protesters assembled at the Russian consulate on East 91st Street in New York City Wednesday. According to the HIV-AIDS activist group ACT UP's Twitter feed, the protest began around noon on Wednesday and included protesters pouring Russian vodka on to the sidewalk in front of the consulate building.
Scott Wooledge of Memeographs was there taking photos and documenting the event, which are available on the Memeograph Facebook page. Included are images of Anne Northrup of Queer Nation, LGBT Russian nationals like Roman Manonov, who are now afraid to return home for fear of persecution and personnel from Boxer's Bar, which donated cases of Russian vodka to be poured out in protest.
Chanting, "We're here, we're queer, we're drinking only beer," the throng poured out bottles of Russian-made vodka to protest that country's draconian anti-LGBT laws, which have made it illegal to express any positive views of same sex relationships. Russian government officials say that the laws are in place to protect children from "homosexual propaganda."
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pledged that the laws will not affect the guests and athletes in the former Soviet Union for the 2014 Winter Olympic games, but St. Petersburg politician Vitaly Milanov said in an interview with Moscow radio Tuesday that the laws will be enforced equally across all of Russia, including against LGBT visitors.
An ugly strain of homophobia in Russian culture has led to a string of anti-LGBT assaults and murders there. Some activists are calling for the U.S. to boycott the Sochi games altogether.
[Photo by Scott Wooledge via the Memeographs Facebook page]
UPDATE: A shot of the crowd at the Russian Consulate via Act Up is embedded below.