New York City – Voices4, a non-violent and direct-action advocacy group, and their partner group RUSA LGBT, staged a protest on January 20th at the Russian Consulate. The Russian LGBT Network confirmed last week that about 40 LGBTQ people have been imprisoned and at least two people murdered since December 2018.

Over 100 protesters stood in solidarity with LGBTQ Chechens affected by a new round of queer purges in Chechnya. Less than 24 hours after the protest ended, a message appeared on social media in Chechnya offering 300,000 rubles (about $4,500) to anyone who incited violence against LGBTQ people. The message asked people to kidnap, beat up, disrupt bars and meeting spaces and do “everything except murder.”

As the vigil began, Voices4 members gathered across the street from the Russian Consulate. Attendees held candles and posters with messages of solidarity, including “Queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere,’” “You are loved,” and “We see you.” The visual demonstration reflected how all people must stand in solidarity with persecuted communities. Three members of Voices4 peacefully crossed the street and approached the steps of the Russian consulate, where they began to lay down flowers, a pride flag, electronic candles and a sign that read “Queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere.” The NYPD removed the materials and ordered the Voices4 members to leave, claiming “This isn’t our land,” referring to extraterritoriality status the Russian Consulate receives (meaning the building and the land surrounding it are governed by Russian, not American law). Website: Voices-4.com. (Seattle Gay News at Sgn.org/sgnnews47_04/page9.cfm)

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