A gay couple paying tribute to the Orlando shooting victims were arrested in Russia on Sunday. Islam Abdullabeckov and his boyfriend Felix Glyukman were on their way to the U.S. embassy in Moscow on Sunday afternoon with a candle, some flowers, and a sign that read “Love Wins.” But the moment the young couple laid the sign down on the pavement outside the embassy, they were nabbed by policemen.
The Orlando massacre which happened in Pulse nightclub, a hang-out place for gays, has resulted in 49 deaths and several more injuries. Experts have called it the deadliest act of terrorism in the United States since 9/11.
The gay couple in Moscow wanted to leave a tribute to #OrlandoShooting victims. Russian police arrested them. https://t.co/k6iZEv2JgQ
— David Beard (@dabeard) June 13, 2016
Police have accused the gay couple of violating a law that prohibits the organization of public events without proper authorization. This charge has been known to bring serious fines or in some cases imprisonment of the violators. Felik Glyukman commented on their arrest saying that they had no intentions of organizing an event or anything of the sort.
“We wanted to put a poster down there, put down some flowers, and light a candle. Instead, we were taken to local police department and accused of unsanctioned picketing.”
Speaking to the Washington Post on Wednesday morning, Islam Abdullabeckov also made a similar comment.
“We weren’t going to hold a political protest. We just wanted to put a poster and light candles.”
The couple was taken to a police station and released after three hours of interrogation. If found guilty, they could each face up to 10 days in jail or a fine of $900. Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia, but homophobia is rampant with gay men and women facing several discriminations against them. The country passed a controversial bill in 2013, banning any kind of demonstration or public event that equated the lifestyles of gay people to that of straight people, arguing that such events could “influence children.” And in January, another bill was debated that would prohibit gay people from embracing, kissing, or holding hands in public.
A video showing the arrest of Felik and Islam was released by a Russian TV network. The video shows a police officer grabbing Islam by the arm and putting him into the police cruiser where Glyukman joins his partner. The couple has since made it clear that this arrest will not deter them from expressing their condolences to the dead. They have also expressed their shock over the fact that even in a country as liberal as the United States, such a homophobic act was committed. The couple’s lawyer says that he hopes the situation will not end up in court.
Omar Mateen, a self-proclaimed ISIS fundamentalist, opened fired in the Pulse Gay nightclub before he killed himself on the morning of Sunday, June 12. The attack has since received condemnation from all over the world, with millions around the world taking it to the street to pay homage to the fallen, and still more paying tribute via social media. While the majority of the people have come in solidarity with the LGBT community, there have been some people and groups with homophobic tendencies that have suggested that the homosexual people themselves are to blame for the “deserved” horrific act.
[Photo by Vadim Ghirda/AP Images]