Kiss-in Occupies Russian Consulate

“Sports should be about solidarity” says protestor


Dressed in drag, and toting posters of Russian President Vladimir Putin sporting feminine makeup, the morning of Friday, August 23rd saw the Cape Town LGBTIAQ community organise a kiss-in protest, demonstrating against the Russian Federation’s adoption of anti-gay laws in the build up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

The protest attracted attention by blocking access to Norton Rose House, from where the consulate operates, and by encouraging both community members and passers-by to kiss members of the same sex in defiance of Russia’s newly adopted anti-gay legislature, which bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”.

Marathon kiss-in outside Norton Rose House
Protestors kiss outside of Norton Rose House, in defiance of Russian “anti-gay” laws

The Cape Town LGBTIAQ community, in addition to organisations protesting simultaneously in Pretoria and elsewhere globally, denounced the new Russian law, which includes multiple bans on Gay Pride parades taking place in public.

The protest attracted significant attention as crowds of onlookers hastily assembled to view the kissing couples, while Norton Rose House security guards repeatedly sought to clear the entrance area to the building. SAPS officers remained on standby, preventing the protestors from moving onto the street.

Protestor Christopher Starr, refusing to vacate from the Norton Rose House entranceway, commented that the aim of the protest was to “bring attention to what Russia has just passed – and is terming – anti gay laws.” Calling for the boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics, Starr stated “sport should be about solidarity… and that’s not happening in Russia right now. It’s a terrible place to be at the moment if you are a gay person.”

Starr went on to evaluate the social impact of the laws, stating that gay citizens in Russia “can’t express any kind of love, and can’t talk about it”, while arguing the difficulty of “ help(ing) younger gays who need information or love”. Starr cited his belief that there was no better way to demonstrate against the foreign law locally, than by “fighting hate with love”.

Globally, the ‘anti-gay’ laws have sparked outrage amongst both Human Rights and Gay Rights groups, which have criticised the controversial President Vladimir Putin and his government decision to introduce the law before the commencement of the 2014 Winter Olympic games.

Kiss-In protestors brandish anti-Sochi placards
Hate on Ice: A couple kiss, brandishing anit-Sochi Olympic

Similar protest has occurred globally, following both an August 9th kiss-in in Antwerp, Belgium, and what has been perceived to be a protest against the law by two female Russian athletes who kissed publicly following achieving Gold in the 400m Sprint at the World Athletics Championships.

The protest ended following the demonstrating group sharing numerous kisses, whilst the group leader, a drag queen identified as Genevieve, urged onlookers to continue demonstrating against the discriminatory and restrictive ‘anti-gay’ law.