Russia, “a country where it’s thought only 1% of gay people dare to live completely openly”. This Channel 4 documentary explores the incredibly prominent vigilante gang violence going on that target’s gay men and women in Russia today. “The film depicts a country troubled by disturbing violence and distressing intimidation”.
The fact that the terms ‘pedophile’ and ‘homosexual’ are used interchangeably in public by, not only members of these vigilante ‘gay hunting’ groups but by members of the public and community is just heartbreaking. This along with the fact that violent “heterosexual healing” is something that these groups are not only publicly acting upon and offering but, filming and posting as ‘trophy videos’ online. There is a clear lack of education or lack of understanding and acceptance within communities such as these where ‘healing’, ‘correcting’ and ‘curing’ happens on a daily basis and not only in a private and secluded place but openly, boldly and, most frightening of all, proudly, in public and online, for all to see and be aware of. These frightening acts are absolutely devastating and completely unacceptable.
Throughout the duration of the documentary; a representative priest publicly announces that he considers them, them being ‘gay people’, “spiritually and morally ill”, it is common knowledge that influential and highly thought of members of Russian parliament are, at present, seeking to further strengthen the new legislation put in place so as to inhibit gay couples from being parents and so as to have children removed from current same sex relationship families and on top of this, influential people within education, such as teachers, are openly and proudly homophobic.
There is focus on one group within the documentary, known as Occupy Paedophilia, which lures its victims from online chat rooms and forums into secluded places where they then proceed to taunt and probe questions such as “How do you all become gay? Do you just sit at home and decide to take it up the arse?” And this is only a tiny insight of what these groups get up to as they were restrained due to being in the presence of a camera in order for the documentary to be possible.
Homosexuality within Russia is going through vicious scrutiny and is something that currently is not ‘tolerated’. I use the term ‘tolerated’ loosely, as in my opinion homosexuality is not something that should be ‘tolerated’ or even ‘accepted’ because in many peoples eyes, it just is.
“The high levels of ignorance and blatant dismissal of the physical, emotional and spiritual well being of gay people in Russia is undoubtedly out of date to the rest of the western world. With the UK, USA, and other parts of Europe recognizing same sex relationships, how did we not know about this monstrosity until a channel 4 documentary was aired? Why are the mentalities of the Russian government so inverted and not moving on with the modern movement that we know in the west? With strong partnerships with the EU, particularly England, we need to perpetuate this movement. It is most definitely a cause for concern. The gay and lesbian communities of Russia are hiding and are bound silent by the majority. This is no different to racism, sexism, slavery and needs to be stopped. We are all the same”.
Lauren Naomi Hutchinson– member of the cast of Heterophobia, second year Applied Performance student at Birmingham School of Acting.
Lucy Mangan, gives her insight into Dispatches: HUNTED in her TV review on behalf of The Guardian, Thursday 6th February – http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/feb/06/dispatches-russia-gay-brutality-k2-storyville