Last night I watched the Channel 4 documentary Hunted. I only switched onto this channel by accident and so only caught the tail end however in those 30 minutes I saw some of the most shocking reporting I have seen in a long time. I am certain most of you will be aware of Putin and the discussions around the Winter Olympics but I have to ask you are you actually listening to what is being sad or, as I was, are you flicking past the stories too busy in your daily life wondering why someone else doesn’t do anything? Well today I am doing something. Although this isn’t much I am staking my rainbow coloured flag in the ground and telling anyone who will listen “What is going on in Russia at present is beyond comprehension and as human-beings we have to be done!!”
There are a few stories that I would like to share with you. If you would prefer here would be the place to stop reading.
Currently in Russia at the moment there are vigilante groups who are ‘hunting’ gay men for sport. Now I detest any type of hunting, I think to cause something pain and misery to get your rocks off is wrong, but hunting another human being because of their lifestyle? These ‘hunting’ groups track down gay men and ‘shame’ them on the internet. Using social media and various other means they identify their pray and then trick their prey into meeting one of them. Of so the prey thinks until they turn up and find not one person, but an entire group of men and woman calling for their blood.
In the film last night the crew who had been given access to follow one of these vigilante groups. Once the victim was brought back to the flat he was beaten and then forced to dance while they filmed him and laughed at him. This man was lucky. The crew filming for Channel 4 were initially locked out of the room when the victim arrived but they forced their way back in and continued to film. This action undoubtedly protected this man. This time the leader of the group kept reminding her team to “be gentle” and when one member asked if they were going to pour urine over the victim her response was “not this time”. These ‘shaming’ videos are posted online and openly shared. Nothing is done to bring the perpetrators to justice. Meanwhile the victim looses their home, their job and becomes a public target all because they are gay.
As I said the man in the above situation was lucky (this time). It would appear he got off extremely lightly. He was able to walk away. Other videos show people lifeless after the ‘hunting’. One young man was left blind after being attacked by a different vigilante group. One video showed a man covered in blood being forced to rape himself with a bottle.
It gets worse. It would appear that the members of these group operate free from fear of persecution. The police at best look the other way, at worse encourage these actions. New laws in Russia means that anyone who says anything even remotely neutral about a homosexual life style can be prosecuted. This means that people are left unable to protest, unable to say or do anything. The documentary followed a story of a man who was attacked in the street for carrying a rainbow flag, a vigilante attacked him, there is photographic proof. Yet, the defendants legal team have tied the case (one of only a handful to actually make it into a court of law) up in tape meaning it has dragged on for almost two years knowing once the case passes a two year mark it will be dropped.
The misguided idea that gay people are also pedophiles is now commonly held by a lot of Russian society. I don’t think I need say anything more on that!
It also featured a lesbian couple who between them had children from previous marriages. If anyone reports these two woman to the government they will loose their children as new laws look to make it even easier to remove children from homosexual households.
There was a small glimmer of hope with the mention of a few people who are fighting. However, any attempts made to protest are quickly stopped. The documentary followed a teacher who attends rallies and works hard to fight for gay rights within Russia. She is now a marked woman. Anti-gay hunting groups are after her job as they claiming she is mentally ill and so should not be allowed around children.
Before watching this programme I was very much of the opinion that we should be boycotting the Olympics. However, if we did do this it would only be used as another stick with which to beat homosexuals within Russia. Apparently, with the spot light of the world on the country things aren’t ‘that bad’. I fear for the state of things when the spotlight of the media is focused elsewhere.