16 Hospitalized After LGBT Festival Attacked in Russia

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Friday September 19, 2014

Sixteen people were hospitalized Thursday after a group allegedly stormed an LGBT festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, Gay Star News reports.

The attackers allegedly sprayed "green paint" and released gas during the event, held at an art gallery, causing those who breathed it in to go to the hospital.

GSN reports that lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, who co-wrote St. Petersburg's anti-gay propaganda measure, stormed the event with other anti-gay protesters in order to shut it down.

The LGBT group Coming Out St. Petersburg and 40 other volunteers spent five months putting the arts event together. It only took 90 minutes before the group was forced to leave the venue, Polina Andrianova told Gay Star News.

She claims the owner of the building forced the venue to break the contract, forcing the LGBT activists to find a new space for the event. They had to move all of the installations, sound equipment and direct guests to a new area. But that didn't stop the anti-gay protesters from allegedly hunting them down.

"There were 20 aggressors, and the security guys that we hired blocked them from entering," Andrianova told GSN. "They proceeded to spray the doors - two entrances - with this horrific green stuff. They also sprayed some form of gas - it left a really bad, putrid scent. Today we learned 16 people were hospitalized today from breathing this thing in."

This isn't the first time Coming Out has faced trouble - GSN reports contracts are often broken at the last minute.

"We're trying to do what we can do. It feels horrible. This is a great event, it is a celebration of LGBT community, celebrating our rights, our partnerships, our common work with other human rights activists," Andrianova told the site. "It's not happening very well this year...The message is clear: the authorities, the deputies, they don't want us in public spaces. They want us out of the public spaces and into gay bars - underground."

GSN asked Andrianova to give Milonov and other anti-gay politicians a message:

"He's really on the wrong side of history and he's working so hard to make a group of people who have done nothing wrong - great people - feel miserable, feel like second-class citizens, and that's where he's putting his energy. I feel sorry for him. I feel like one day he will be sorry that this is how he spent his better years."