Two dozen masked men stormed one of Moscow’s most popular gay bars early Thursday morning and brutally beat patrons — most of them women — with fists and bottles. More than 10 people were injured, and three women and a man were hospitalized after the attack, which coincided with a “Coming Out Day” party, The New York Times reported.
Russia has been heavily criticized by members of the European Union and other nations for its blatant, institutionalized discrimination toward LGBT citizens. In the past year, three cities, including St. Petersburg, passed laws criminalizing “homosexual propaganda” – i.e., writing or saying anything about LGBT people that is not condemning. The Russian Orthodox Church is attempting to nationalize the laws.
Moscow’s highest court upheld a law in August that bans gay Pride parades in the city for a century.
At the time of Thursday’s gay bashing, more than 50 people were celebrating at the bar 7freedays. According to witnesses, attackers wore surgical masks and hoods.
The men yelled, “You asked for a fight? Now you’ll get it,” and attacked, according to one witness. After beating everyone they could reach, the attackers ran out of the club before police arrived.
Nikolai Alekseyev, the founder of the Moscow Gay Pride movement, said the brazenness of the attack shows that anti-gay groups are becoming increasingly aggressive. “They believe that they won’t be caught and won’t be punished for this,” he said.