Last night, the U.K.'s Channel 4 aired Hunted, a wide-ranging documentary about homophobia in Russia. Its biggest coup was achieving access to the inner workings of Occupy Pedophilia, the largest vigilante group responsible for the hunting down of, physical abuse against, and public humiliation of gay people (predominantly gay men). Though such footage has been making the rounds, this is the first time I've seen the planning and luring process of the group. Via the third-party cameras, we also get a sense of how long such an ordeal lasts (an hour). Though mild in violence, the footage above is as hard to watch as the rest of this stuff, so proceed with caution.
As you could guess from the group's name, Occupy Pedophilia members rationalize their violence against gays as pro-children activism. Tanya Cooper, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who appeared in the video detailing anti-gay Russian violence that the group released this week, says that OP will often use the terms "gay" and "pedophile" interchangeably. Notice in the video above how members of the group explain that their objective has nothing to do with gays, it just so happens that the pedophiles they nab are gay. Notice that their victim is not asked about pedophilia but is grilled mercilessly about his homosexuality.
It is no coincidence that this violence is mounting in the wake of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, which bans the "promotion" of "non-traditional sexual relations" toward children. The idea that children need to be protected is classic fraudulent rationale for the disenfranchisement of gays: It was the rhetoric of Anita Bryant, Jesse Helms, and Jerry Fallwell. It was the reason for Uganda's "Kill the Gays Bill," as stated by its author, David Bahati.
Just in case you need reminding, this is a fallacy. This is the stuff of ignorant minds or devious people preying on minds more ignorant than theirs. You probably know this. I knew this. And yet, I still found this study from U.C. Davis to be comforting. Here's its conclusion:
The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so. And, as explained above, many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.
In Hunted, a pro-gay activist (who's actually heterosexual), offered an additional theory for the rise in homophobic violence. Said Katya Bogatch:
Right now it suits the state and the regime to organize this witch hunt because our economic situation, our pensions, our salaries, our healthcare, and our education are all getting worse. Understandably people need someone to blame. To stop people from focusing their anger at the authorities, the regime is igniting and maintaining this conflict and hatred. They are making people fight amongst themselves.
The whole doc was so insightful that I wish it were shown in the United States. Gay people in Russia are at the mercy of violent antagonists who are able to openly carry out their pastime while gays must hide their identity for fear of being fired and further ridicule. There's no such thing as an anti-gay hate crime in Russia. Police are apathetic to those who experience anti-gay violence, and more likely to shut down a pro-gay demonstration than, say, an anti-abortion one. "Second-class" citizen doesn't even begin to describe the status of gays.
I thought the following scene was particularly poignant. In it, a survivor of anti-gay violence describes his attack, which left him without his left eye. He also explains the psychology of his assailants: "First they shut us up with their laws so we cannot say anything in our defense, and then they say we are similar to murderers and perverts. If it's constantly drilled into people that we are murders, scum and perverts, I understand why these guys shot at me. If you repeat something all the time, sooner or later there will be a click, and they will pick up a gun and go and shoot."