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June 17, 2016

Russian Couple Arrested for Honoring Orlando Victims

By Courtney Thomas

On Monday a gay couple in Moscow was arrested and detained for laying flowers and a sign with the message, "Love Wins—Stay with Orlando" outside the U.S. embassy. The gesture was meant to pay tribute to the 49 lives lost in the tragic Orlando shooting the gay nightclub Pulse on early Sunday morning.

According to the couple, a police officer grabbed the poster and told them to leave. The men refused, and they were immediately arrested and held at the police station for three hours.

This incident comes as no surprise to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in Russia, who face ongoing mistreatment due to various anti-LGBT laws in the country. Russia bans protests over the rights of LGBT people and outlaws "homosexual propaganda." This includes the distribution of rainbow flags, LGBT symbols, or similar materials. Homophobia is widespread and LGBT people suffer discrimination and targeted violence.  

In wake of the tragic attacks at Pulse, thousands of people across the globe have come together to express their condolences and solidarity with Orlando. The incident in Russia is a reminder that the persecution of LGBT people is rampant throughout the world. Combating homophobia in all its forms is essential to ensuring love wins everywhere and no more lives are needlessly lost.