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Fired Teacher Not Alone As Gay Activists Push Back In St. Petersburg

Fired Teacher Not Alone As Gay Activists Push Back In St. Petersburg by EurasiaNet

A EurasiaNet Partner Post from: RFE/RL

In November, Anastasia was a well-respected teacher giving music classes at a school for disabled children in St. Petersburg.

By December, she was unemployed and battling a nervous breakdown, her teaching career in tatters.

The young woman, who gives her name only as Anastasia, was fired from her job after being exposed as homosexual by an antigay activist.

"I couldn't understand why I was being dismissed, because I hadn't done anything wrong, I hadn't violated any laws," she tells RFE/RL. "I don't shout about my [sexual] orientation at the top of my lungs, I don't go around carrying a banner. I just live my life, I work, I play music, that's all."

Anastasia's plight underscores what gay-rights activists say is deeply entrenched homophobia in Russia, where a controversial law banning the promotion of "nontraditional sexual relations" has been in place since 2013.

A poll released by the independent Levada Center in May showed that a majority of Russians either despise, are irritated by, or are suspicious of sexual minorities. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they perceived homosexuality as a disease, and another 18 percent said homosexuals should be prosecuted.

Rights campaigners have criticized the antigay law as an attempt to further marginalize Russia's already-embattled lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

At the same time, they argue that the legislation has spurred Russian homosexuals to take a bolder stand, disproving recent claims by Vitaly Milonov, a notoriously homophobic St. Petersburg lawmaker, according to whom all gays have been "squeezed out" of the city.

Milonov, who has suggested that gay people "rape kids," was the driving force behind the legislation.

Shaking the System

Anastasia herself was summoned by her school director after he received...


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