In 2013 the Russian parliament passed legislation that criminalises public discussion of homosexuality, especially by foreigners. The fine for kissing someone of the same sex in public: 5000 rubles. This law gives free rein to homophobic people to discriminate and use violence against homosexuals in Putin’s Russia. In the words of a gay activist: ‘Whoever beats me up for wearing something with the rainbow symbol on it, now has the law on his side.’
In 5000 ROEBEL, Kris van der Veen visits St. Petersburg and Murmansk, where he talks with a diverse group of youngsters and activists about their coming out, fears and dreams. In Russia, where the gay rights movement is still in its infancy, fear for the consequences is huge. What motivates these youngsters to take a stand and can they still be safe on the streets?
Van der Veen’s visit to Russia ends in a police raid. He and his crew become the first foreigners to be charged with making gay propaganda. Van der Veen and his crew make the international news and are summoned to appear in Russian court. They get off with a fright, but can’t help but wonder: what does the future hold for gays, lesbians and transgender persons in Russia? How will this continue?