New York, NY - In a surprise visit, All Out publicly delivered a petition with more than 340,000 signatures against the Russian anti-gay crackdown to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, as he met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York City. This demonstration follows a successful delivery of signatures to the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland on Wednesday.
The global petition urges Russian and world leaders to condemn Russia's anti-gay law, denounce the laws and protect all people from violence and discrimination in Russia.
All Out members arrived just after 4:00 pm on the sidewalk at the Upper East Side location where the meeting between the Secretary General and Russian official was being held, holding signs that said "340,457 worldwide say: stop Russia's anti-gay crackdown." Others said, "Tchaikovsky. Genius. Gay. Outlawed" referencing the celebrated gay Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
"Our message for Russian leaders is this: we're not going away until lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in Russia don't have to fear arrest, murder, or censorship because of who they are and who they love," said Andre Banks, Executive Director and co-founder of All Out. "We're pushing hard on the International Olympic Committee to use their unique and critical position to ensure these concerns are being addressed in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. And, we're taking our demands straight to Russian government officials like Sergey Lavrov so they can't escape our powerful message of love and equality at home or abroad."
All Out's campaign to stop the anti-gay crackdown in Russia is run with the support of Russian LGBT activists, who are also calling for an end to the violence and repressive laws.
"We hope the International Olympic Committee responds to All Out and Athlete Ally's members and the millions of people worldwide who want Russia to treat all of their citizens with dignity under the law. Unless the Sochi Games set an example of the rights and freedoms being exercised without prejudice, the discriminatory anti-LGBT law will serve to punish people simply for being open about who they are and who they love. We continue our call for world leaders, including the IOC, to speak out now before it is too late," said Anastasia Smirnova, from the Russian LGBT Network in St Petersburg.
To see the live signature totals from All Out's petition visit:http://www.allout.org/olympics
About All Out:
In 76 countries it is a crime to be gay; in 10 it can cost you your life. All Out is mobilizing millions of people and their social networks to build a powerful global movement for love and equality. Our mission is to build a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love.
The current anti-gay law in Russia includes a provision that allows the government to detain foreigners for 14 days before possible expulsion. The following activities could be construed as a violation of the new national law for participants in the Sochi Olympics:
A journalist covering the impact of the laws on gay communities in Russia could be fined or their media outlet could be fined
A global citizen living outside of Russia posting a global petition urging the end of the anti-gay crackdown
Two sisters holding hands in the street of Sochi, or any other cities of Russia could be stopped and questioned by police and possibly fined
Any event that would talk positively about being LGBT in Russia, from prides to conferences, or even film festivals and book fairs could be banned