May 14, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay Russian man’s death sparks outrage
Volograd, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Volograd (Photo by Markv via Wikimedia Commons)

Authorities continue to investigate the death of a gay Russian man whose body was found near the city of Volgograd on May 10.

The Moscow Times reported investigators said they found Vladislav Tornovoi’s body in the courtyard of an apartment building outside the southern Russian city. The newspaper cited local media that said Tornovoi’s assailants sodomized him with empty beer bottles and set his body on fire after he came out to them after they celebrated Victory Day that commemorates Germany’s surrender to the then-Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

Reuters reported authorities have taken two men into custody in connection with Tornovoi’s death.

Tornovoi’s murder took place against the backdrop of growing concerns over anti-LGBT laws and violence in Russia.

The State Department in January criticized the passage of a bill in the Russian Duma that would prohibit the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors. Russian lawmakers are expected to give final approval to the measure in the coming weeks.

A St. Petersburg court in February upheld a previous ruling that dismissed a lawsuit against Madonna for violating the city’s law that bans “homosexual propaganda” to children during an August 2012 concert. The singer criticized the statute and authorities who arrested more than 80 gay men before and during her performance during the annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York in March.

Madonna also blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for the two-year prison sentences that three members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot received after they staged a protest against him inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral last year.

A Moscow court last August upheld the Russian capital’s 100-year gay ban on gay Pride marches, but organizers of the annual event plan to once again try to stage it on May 25.

Reuters quoted Nikolai Alekseev, a prominent Russian LGBT rights advocate, who reportedly told the Interfax news agency that Tornovoi’s death underscores the consequences anti-gay laws have had in the country.

“This monstrous incident in Volgograd demonstrates the fruits of the homophobic policy that is being conducted in this country, including the initiative to ban homosexual propaganda,” he said.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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