Author: M. G.
AIDS Action Europe interviewed Andrey Beloglazov, an epidemiologist working in HIV prevention from 1990 who launched LaSky, the most wide-scaled project on HIV prevention among MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) in Russia.
For DAA it's important to share the stories by who in Russia is suffering the main consequences of the anti ‘gay propaganda' laws and Beloglazov's story is even more meaningful for us because of his work against the HIV epidemic within a group at high risk of infection. The new Russian legislation makes more difficult, if not impossible, doing HIV prevention work within MSM: "Prosecutors were empowered to check and investigate NGO's like us. As the law was vague, we did not for example know how it would interfere with our safe sex behaviour and HIV prevention information campaigns for MSM. To be on the safe side we decided for example to deliver all the printed materials, condoms and lubricants personally and only in the special places for MSM meetings, e.g. community centres and gay clubs."
Another big problem for the LaSky project is the lack of funding, like many other LGBTQ and anti-HIV NGO's in Russia. The project's team has already decreased significantly so that it is now possible for them to support the three community centres in Saint Petersburg, Arkhangelsk and Tomsk and the other outreach projects around Russia only for the next six months. International funds are drying up and leading donors left Russia, plus LGBT organizations can't expect any help from the central government, that is actually trying to make their work even harder by promoting an image of the gay community that's way different from the actual reality: "The words "GAY" and "Paedophile" have the same meaning to many people in Russia now." The people holding the power in Russia right now have no intention to change the minds of the Russians', nor to defend the gay community from the frequent attacks against single individuals or gay centres - like the attack on the Saint-Petersburg centre of LaSky, that happened on November 3 of last year.
The only hope of Beloglazov is the attention coming from the international community, so the least DAA can do is to share the stories of LaSky. We're also willing to hear and share the stories of others in Russia experiencing similar situations, because we know what's even more dangerous than stigma and violence: silence and ignorance.
We are with you all! Keep fighting people, we are proud of you!