Swedish pop star to headline controversial Russian gay festival

Between 16th and 25th September, the International Festival of Queer Culture will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia for the second time. It is a non-commercial project whose goal is to promote tolerance and diversity and to attract society’s attention to the problems of homophobia and transphobia in Russia through the language of art.

The Queer Culture Festival is one of the largest openly LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans-gendered) events in Russia. Last year, it attracted over 3,000 people and went on without any obstacles from the Russian authorities, right extremist groups, or any other interruptions.

This year’s Russian Festival of Queer Culture has already gained support from distinguished artists, politicians, journalists and other public figures. Among its supporters are Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, British actor Stephen Fry, Belgian singer Lara Fabian, American actor and filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell and others. The organisers are also said to be happy with the Russian support they are receiving this year; among them Vladimir Pozner, a famous Russian TV journalist and host, Artemiy Troickiy, one of the leading specialists in modern music in Russia and Valeriy Panyushkin, the well-known journalist and writer.

This year, the organisers hope to attract even more attention than last, peacefully and lawfully, to the issues that affect LGBT people. “We think the Festival is positive and valuable experience for all of St. Petersburg and Russia. Our goal is to make it happen. If it’s not allowed to proceed, it would be a loss for the
city. Our message is that of tolerance and respect for human rights and each other – that should not be too scary,” says Polina Savchenko, the Festival co-ordinator.

“When a question if I wanted to participate in the Festival came up, there was no hesitation. I definitely said yes directly,” says Jay-Jay Johanson, popular Swedish musician and guest star of the Festival. “I wish the Festival good luck and I hope their voice will be heard all over the world.”

You can find the Festival’s program on the website:
http://queerfest.ru/?lang=en

The organizer of the Festival is the St. Petersburg LGBT organisation
Coming Out (http://piter.lgbtnet.ru ) with the financial support by
the Swedish human rights organization Civil Rights Defenders
(http://www.civilrightsdefenders.org).

(from a press release)

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