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June 10, 2013

Second Suspected Homophobic Murder in Russia

Less than a month after the murder of Vladislav Tornovoi in Volgograd, a second gay man has been murdered in Russia. On May, 29th, three men allegedly stomped and stabbed to death an unnamed 39-year old deputy director of a regional airport in the Ust-Bolsheretsky district of the Kamchatka peninsula. Police discovered the body in a burnt-out car. The suspects apparently attempted to hide their crime by dousing the victim’s body in gasoline and setting it ablaze.

As with the Tornovoi murder, police acknowledged that homophobia was the motive, a rarity in Russia. With the suspects in custody awaiting trial, it is imperative that the motive remain in the spotlight, and that prosecutors do not gloss over the hate behind the crime.

Russia’s LGBT community lives in fear of violence and persecution, and recent government actions have only promoted hatred. Last year’s 100-year ban on gay pride parades in Moscow codifies discrimination, as woulda bill  prohibiting so-called “homosexual propaganda,” which passed on the first reading in February. (The propaganda law has gone as far as to call attempts to confront homophobia “extremist” because they inherently “incite social and religious hatred.”) Additionally, homophobic attacks are rarely prosecuted, and when they are, the true motive usually goes unmentioned.

Russia needs to honor its commitments to international human rights standards and protect the rights of its citizens as guaranteed by its own constitution. The United States has made it a priority to promote LGBT rights globally, and now is the opportunity to follow through, by urging Russia to prioritize the prosecution of violent hate crime and provide justice in Volgograd, Kamchatka, and beyond.