Two openly gay men are running for parliament in Russia

They are believed to be the first ever openly LGBT people to run for the parliament 

Harriet Agerholm
Monday 19 September 2016 07:17 BST
The men strongly object to Putin's gay 'propaganda' law.
The men strongly object to Putin's gay 'propaganda' law.

Two men who are openly gay are standing in the Russian elections in a challenge to Vladimir Putin and the ruling party, United Russia.

Aleksei Korolyov, 29, and 33-year-old Bulat Barantayev are thought to be the first LGBT people ever to stand in the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly.

Both outspoken gay rights activists, the men strongly object to the gay “propaganda” law.

Passed in 2013, the law makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships or to promote gay rights in any way.

Both activists are running for the pro-Europe People’s Freedom Party (Parnas). Mr Barantayev has called for Putin to be impeached and the government to be rid of corruption.

Although neither Mr Korolyov or Mr Barantayev believe they have any chance of being elected, they hope that by standing they will progress discussion about gay rights.

Mr Barantayev told Radio Free Europe: "For a long time now, I have used all opportunities to cultivate an audience for accepting LGBT people.

"By my example, I show that gays in Russia can create their own successful businesses, can meet with people, can have children, and can even run for the State Duma."

Mr Korolyov said: "The LGBT community now is in a desperate situation and we need allies. It is good that we have been able to form an alliance with Parnas.

“The LGBT community gets new resources to defend itself and the party should get some new voters

He said he had decided to run because United Russia, the ruling party, had adopted an “extreme homophobic position.”

“The authorities are facilitating a homophobic discourse in society that is inciting hate crimes," he added.

In 2015, the Russian government introduced a "straight" flag in direct opposition to the rainbow flag of the LGBT movement.

For the first time, voting in the Russian elections has taken place in Crimea, which was annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

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