Gay rights protester stopped by Russian police while posing in Red Square with ‘Love is Love’ banner
Photograph goes viral as people express shock at clampdown by Moscow authorities on what they call ‘gay propaganda’
An Italian journalist has achieved unexpected internet fame after he posed for a photograph in front of St Basil's Cathedral holding a banner saying “Love is Love”, and was quickly confronted by Russian police.
Enrico Procentese, a photographer and travel blogger, was reporting from Red Square on behalf of Conde Nest Traveller at the end of last month when he paid homage to Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton’s July protest against the country’s anti-gay laws.
Despite the fact that the Italian’s poster was only identifiably pro-gay because of a tiny rainbow-coloured heart dotting the “i” of “is”, Moscow police officers responded almost instantly, demanding he hand the banner over.
Though Mr Procentese’s protest only received muted coverage initially, it has now touched a chord with social media users and been shared thousands of times online after it was picked up by La Repubblica, one of Italy’s largest newspapers.
Speaking to Russia’s English-language Moscow Times, the journalist said: “Unfortunately, taking the photograph was not easy, since the police immediately stopped me and asked me to give them the flag I was carrying.
The officers made their demands in a torrent of Russian which Procentese did not understand, he said, and spoke no English when he tried to ask for an explanation.
“People are astonished by the fact that the police intervened to confiscate the flag in such a peaceful situation,” he said.
Actress Tilda Swinton posing in Red Square with a rainbow flag in July It remains unclear exactly what drew the attention of the Russian police, when there are thousands of tourists taking photographs outside the Kremlin every day.
The Moscow Times nonetheless reported that the authorities have had little patience with anyone openly opposing the new law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, which banned so-called “gay propaganda”.
According to the new legislation, a protest like Mr Procentese’s or Ms Swinton’s is punishable by 15 days in prison, a fine and deportation from Russia.
The “Love is Love” campaign started in June after US President Barack Obama tweeted a message in support of gay marriage ending in #LoveIsLove. Within minutes the hashtag became the most popular on Twitter.
Procentese said he hoped other people would follow his lead to support gay rights through peaceful means such as posing for a picture on Red Square.
“I believe promoting awareness through messages like 'Love Is Love' is the only way to change this attitude in Russia as well as in other countries of the world,” he said.
- 1 If you weren't afraid of flying before last week... you probably are now
- 2 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 4 Lauren Goodger calls for tougher laws on revenge porn after sex tape leaks online
- 5 Iraq crisis: End 'very near' for Christianity after Isis takeover, says Bishop
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...