Arrests over 'anti-gay' murder in Volgograd Russia

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from BBC:

Police in southern Russia are questioning two men over a murder they are treating as a homophobic attack.

The victim's naked body had been dumped in a courtyard in the city of Volgograd. His skull was smashed and he had been sodomised with beer bottles.

Officials quoted by Russian media say the suspects had been drinking with the 23-year-old man and turned on him when he told them he was gay.

Gay rights activists say the case reflects growing intolerance in Russia.

The authorities are encouraging that intolerance towards homosexuals, the activists allege.

There are fears that homophobia is being fuelled by legislation banning gay parades and dissemination of "homosexual propaganda" to anyone under 18.

The body was discovered on Friday after Victory Day celebrations in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, which are held annually to mark the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

One of the suspects had been a classmate of the victim, reports say.

The two suspects are aged 22 and 21. The 22-year-old had previously been convicted for burglary.

The viciousness of the attack sparked numerous comments in Russian social media.

The state-owned television channels - the main source of news for most Russians - did not report the case prominently. But it was widely reported in the newspapers, including in the government-owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Community fears

In January a bill banning "homosexual propaganda" passed its first reading in the Russian parliament. The second reading is planned for 25 May.

The bill envisages a nationwide ban on events promoting gay rights and big fines for the organisers. A similar law is already in force in St Petersburg.

The European Court of Human Rights has fined Russia for banning gay pride marches in Moscow.

A prominent gay activist in Russia, Nikolai Alexeyev, says the gay community has asked the Moscow authorities for permission to hold a march in the city centre this month, despite the previous refusals.

The request offered two dates - 25 or 26 May - to celebrate 20 years since Russia stopped treating homosexuality as a criminal offence, Interfax news agency reports.

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