Being a lesbian is dangerous business in Russia, but it’s especially risky when you do it in front of the country’s leading opponent of LGBT rights.
This week, the lesbian nightclub Infinity was raided by Russian police, for illegally allowing under-age people to enter, and allowing the sale of illegal drugs.
On February 1, club owner Kseniya Infinity, and several of her friends were flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg, when they spotted Vitaly Milonov, a lawmaker famous for initiating Russia’s crackdown on LGBT rights. In protest, the women photographed themselves kissing one another in front of Milonov, and later posted the images online, where they became a viral sensation.
After the picture went viral, Senator Milanov said:
“This shows that these people are not of a normal sexual orientation, but that their sexual deviance shows in all aspects of their lives. I didn’t understand what they are doing but they have a nice sense of humour.
I also have a good sense of humour. I will perhaps continue this joke by closing their gay club in St. Petersburg, or ban them from having meetings in public places, that’s also a funny step.”
An anti-gay online community based in Moscow and St. Petersburg published a call to get Infinity closed down. The group posted instructions and a scripted complaint to be sent to the district attorney, demanding that police shut down the lesbian nightclub.
Community members were also encouraged to appeal to Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state-run media watchdog, and federal anti-drug agents, based on claims that Infinity opens its doors to minors and operates as a center for illegal drug use.
Those who wanted the nightclub shut down were instructed to convey their concerns to police. “I have every reason to believe,” the scripted complaint reads, “that the promotional activities carried out at the lesbian club Infinity pose a serious threat to the physical and mental health of minors who manage to enter the establishment.”
The anti-gay group makes no secret of why it targeted club Infinity, citing the kissing selfies incident with Milonov on the airplane.