6 Ways You Can Help Oppressed People and Save Democracy

It is a well-known fact that sexual minorities of all stripes are persecuted around the world.

As the news headlines fill with stories of Russian attacks against our election, it’s easy to forget that Vladimir Putin’s regime has taken numerous steps to persecute and attack sexual minorities in Russia.

Russian Fetish clubs have been raided, and kinksters have been harassed.  Make no mistake, whether you are LGBT+, a practitioner of BDSM, or both, an attack on one sexual minority is an attack on all of us.

This is not a new fight.  In fact, this is not even a fight exclusive to Russia; countries throughout Africa and the Middle East attack sexual minorities on a regular basis.  However, those countries were not successful in manipulating an American election, nor do they have their own TV channels in the United States. 

According to Asylum Connect Russia remains a dangerous place for sexual minorities. At AsylumConnect, they receive messages from sexual minorities around the world, including in Russia, who are facing severe persecution daily based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. For example, they have heard from people in Russia who have been fired from their job, been physically assaulted, received regular phone calls from unknown people, and death threats due to their sexual identity. 

In 2013, the Russian Duma passed a law against public demonstrations of LGBTQ+ activity, outlawing the celebrated gay pride parades, as well as gay bars and other safe congregating spaces.  To add gasoline to the fire, Putin himself made comments supporting the law, saying, “Leave the children out of this,” implying that the sexual minorities were targeting and molesting children.  This hate speech emboldened conservatives across Russia to stage ambushes, luring young gay people into traps, where a gang of straight vanillas waited in the shadows to beat them within an inch of their life.  It is estimated that thousands of these brutal hate crimes occurred in Russia. 

In addition, according to the New York Times and Human Rights Watch, the Putin-installed government of Chechnya also issued crackdowns on gay men.  There have been reports of literal concentration camps where beatings, starvations, electrocutions, and deaths took place.

I will not list every clampdown and act of bigotry the Russian government has enacted.  However, I will bring up the 2015 decree, which directly targets the kinky, fetish, and BDSM communities of Russia.  According to the 2015 decree, if you are found guilty of practicing BDSM, you can have your driver’s license taken away, as well as other travel restrictions.  Plus, the verdict is part of a public record, which leaves you open to being targeted and attacked by conservative vanilla men.

Imagine if you had your drivers license and right to travel taken away, having to travel publically with the fear that beatings, injuries, and death were potentially around every corner.

These are not a distant people.  These are our brothers and sisters.  They are part of our worldwide F/family, made up of men, women, and individuals all across the gender spectrum.  They are identical to us.  They are our metamours, and our comrades, and we cannot abandon them in their hour of need.

We as a block of like-minded individuals can, and Must take action.  Some actions you can take right now include:

1. Raise Awareness of the Issue

Spread the word by sharing this article on social media, or share Asylum Connect’s website,  https://www.asylumconnect.org  You can also participate in Human Rights Campaign’s #EyesonChechnya campaign, and share the hashtag on social media. 

2. Support people who are members of sexual minorities in their journey to resettle in a safe country. 

You can do this by supporting AsylumConnect’s work, by donating to help connect LGBTQ+ asylum seekers with safe services in their new home.  Donate by following this link:   

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/asylumconnect

3. Download Asylum Connect’s App

Anyone can download Asylum Connect’s new iOS and Android mobile apps for free. 

4. Support Other Organizations Like Rainbow Railroad

In countries all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) people live in basic fear for their freedom, their safety and their lives.  Rainbow Railroad exists to help these people get out of danger to somewhere safe. In the spirit of and with homage to the Underground Railroad, the mission of Rainbow Railroad is to help LGBTQI people as they seek safe haven from state-enabled violence, murder or persecution. Through funds collected by people like you, they’re able to support, provide information, and help to arrange safe transportation for these LGBTQI people to somewhere in the world where they can live their lives in freedom.  Support Rainbow Railroad’s work to help LGBTQ+ people physically get out of unsafe countries: https://www.rainbowrailroad.org

5. Boycott

According to Community Toolbox:

Why can boycotts be so effective? Basically, because a boycott is an economic tool–and it’s being used against those who are accustomed to holding the economic cards. Dollars and cents is the language for-profit corporations understand best; a boycott speaks to them in their terms (even if they don’t want to hear the message!). In fact, a nationwide survey conducted in 1991 found that business leaders considered boycotts more effective than letter writing campaigns, lobbying, or even class action suits in convincing them to modify their practices. 

Russia is a small economy of $1.3 trillion, which is one-tenth the size of the U.S. economy, half the population, and comparable to the economy of Florida. 

The money from exports goes into the hands of only 96 Russian billionaires who are all straight white men, and include gangsters, spies, and Vladimir Putin’s family.  For comparison, there are 585 billionaires in the U.S. and 476 in China

By concentrating money among only 96 men, Vladimir Putin can control the economy, while the rest of Russia’s citizens live in poverty.  Much of the money also goes to the deeply conservative Russian Orthodox church.

The only way to hit back is to hit where the powerful Russian elites will feel it the most, their wallet.

A powerful Russian boycott is already underway in Eastern Europe, but has not resonated in America because of Russian P.R. outlets like RT, Sputnik, and Ketchum-Omnicom

It’s important to understand that there are many more ways to boycott and harm the Russian patriarchy than just not drinking vodka. 

We can join apps like “Buycott” which allows us to boycott products created in Russia, and other social justice campaigns.  https://www.buycott.com/campaign/613/boycott-russian-products-because-of-homophobic-lgbt-policies

We are not asking you for anything special. We are just asking you to withdraw your support from persecution by not buying Russian goods.

6. Buying an Electric Car 

The top Russian exports to the United States include:

  • * Oil
  • * Iron & Steel
  • * Cereals & Grains
  • * Gems & Precious metals (stolen from Ukraine)
  • * Machinery and Computers
  • * Wood
  • * Fertilizers
  • * Aluminum & Copper

As Oil is the number one export from Russia to the USA, we can fight the Russian oil machine by boycotting gasoline and buying electric cars.  We can also lobby our elected officials to mandate that our utility companies do not purchase Russian natural gas, and switch to renewables. 

For more information on contacting your elected officials, visit https://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/ContactingOfficials/Tips

This is not an enemy that simply misunderstands the nature of BDSM and consent.  This is an enemy who has entrenched itself by using its most conservative institutions, divided its populace, and created scapegoats, so 96 wealthy men can control their power.  We can, and Must take action to defend our democracy.

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