An LGBTQ history museum in Russia opened and closed in less than two weeks, in a protest of Russia’s new law banning LGBTQ “propaganda.”
Pyotr Voskresensky, the museum’s founder, spent years gathering Russian-made art and books relating to Russia’s LGBTQ subculture, according to euronews. He set up a pop-up exhibit at his home in St. Petersburg on Nov. 27 to oppose a new anti-gay law in Russia.
The law, which Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Dec. 5, makes it illegal to praise non-heterosexual relationships or suggest that non-heterosexual sexual orientations are “normal.” The law also links non-heterosexuality and sex change to pedophilia, perpetuating “false and damaging messaging,” according to Human Rights Watch.
People in violation of the new law may be fined up to 400,000 rubles (about $6,185) for violating the law; corporations may be fined up to 5 million rubles (about $77,320).
Voskresensky began his exhibit when the law was being voted upon by Russia’s parliament. The State Duma, the lower house, passed the bill on Nov. 24. The upper house passed it on Nov. 30.
After Putin signed the law, Voskresensky told Reuters he closed the museum.
“Closing the museum is a personal tragedy, but not only [that]: this is the tragedy of my people and my homeland,” the doctor and activist said to Reuters via text.
The Moscow Times reported that the museum’s location wasn’t publicized for safety reasons. Visitors had to message Voskresensky on Facebook to get access.
Nevertheless, Voskresensky told Reuters that about 200 people visited his museum while it was open.
His collection included a portrait of Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky — who historians generally think was gay — as well as a statue of two gay lovers who were purported to have assassinated an oppressive ruler, according to Reuters and The Moscow Times.
The new Russian law expands upon a 2013 anti-LGBTQ law that banned showing children positive or neutral depictions of non-heterosexual relationships.
“The 2013 ‘gay propaganda’ law was an unabashed example of political homophobia, and the new draft legislation amplifies that in broader and harsher ways,” said HRW Associate Europe and Central Asia Director Tanya Lokshina in an article by HRW. “This updated version will have an even more stifling effect on freedom of expression, well-being and security.”
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