Happy birthday, Mr President

Activists put pride flags on government buildings in Russia for Putin’s birthday

Pussy Riot erect rainbow flags to mark Putin's birthday
Photos: Pussy Riot/Facebook

Rock band Pussy Riot marked President Vladimir Putin’s 68th birthday by placing rainbow flags on five Government buildings in Moscow yesterday.

The Russian President has spoken out against LGBTQ rights, saying he doesn’t believe they align with traditional Russian values. He also oversaw the introduction of an anti-gay propaganda law in 2013. This bans the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relations to minors. It has been used to ban Pride marches and any positive gay representation in the media.

Related: Vile anti-gay Russian campaign ad is pulled by YouTube

Yesterday, to mark his birthday, Pussy Riot placed the pride flags on five government buildings, including the Russian Supreme Court and the Ministry of Culture.

Pussy Riot
Photo: Pussy Riot/Facebook

In Facebook postings, the group explained its actions. It pointed to the organized torture and killing of gay people in Chechnya, the passing of transphobic laws, and the persecution of same-sex parents and their families.

Photo: Pussy Riot/Facebook
Photo: Pussy Riot/Facebook

“We chose rainbow flags as our gift to Putin as a symbol of missing love and freedom,” they said. “The state should not interfere in the life of the LGBTQ community. But if it does, then the community can intervene in the life of the state.

Photo: Pussy Riot/Facebook
Photo: Pussy Riot/Facebook

It went on to issue a list of demands,

1. Investigate the killings and kidnappings of gay, lesbian, transgender and queer people in Chechnya

2. Stop harassment of activists and organizations who help the LGBTQ community

3. Pass a law that prevents discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation

4. Legalize same-sex partnerships

5. Stop harassment of same-sex families, stop taking away children from these families

6. Abolish “a propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” law as discriminatory and violating the right to freedom of expression

7. Make October 7 LGBTQ Visibility Day.

Photo: Pussy Riot/Facebook
Photo: Pussy Riot/Facebook

Earlier this year, the US Embassy in Moscow, in open defiance of Russia’s gay propaganda law, hung a rainbow flag outside its building for Pride month.

Related: US Embassy in Moscow defiantly flies rainbow flag and issues pride message

Putin later mocked the gesture, suggesting that hanging the rainbow flag outside the embassy, “revealed something about the people that work there … Yes, we passed a law banning the propaganda of homosexuality among minors. So what? Let people grow up, become adults and then decide their own destinies.”

Putin’s birthday was marked by the Russian military yesterday in ways more likely to meet with his approval. The armed forces carried out a test launch of the Mach 8, hypersonic, Zircon missile.

The cruise missile traveled from the White Sea to a target 280 miles away in less than five minutes, prompting Putin to issue a statement praising the success of the deadly weapon.

UPDATE (10/9/2020)

Reuters report police in Russia detained two female members of Pussy Riot, a day after the group hung flags on government buildings. It is not clear why they were detained.