Lifesaver for ages 9 and up – Russian Federation: Protect Elena Klimova and the Children 404 website
Twenty-six year old Elena Klimova is a journalist in Russia. She wrote some articles about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) teenagers in Russia. She realized that, because they were open about who they are and who they are attracted to, the youth were being rejected by their families, friends and teachers. They had nowhere to go for support.
So Elena started the Children 404 website. It was an online space for LGBTI youth to express their fears, seek health advice, and safely connect with other youth who are experiencing similar issues. It was a safe space where these youth felt accepted and respected.
Elena said, “It is only on the internet that they can find somebody to speak to. The feeling that most of these children feel is constant fear.”
But the Russian government didn’t like Elena’s website because they thought it promoted homosexuality (when a person is attracted to someone of the same gender). And Russia has made it against the law to promote homosexuality. Russia has also made it really hard for people to talk or write freely about certain topics including homosexuality. This is discrimination. Discrimination means unfair treatment because one person or group sees another person or group as being different. It’s also a violation of the right to freedom of expression.
Because of these laws, the government has tried to silence Elena and shut down her website. They have succeeded. Elena has been found guilty of ‘promoting homosexuality’. And the government has shut down the Children 404 website.
Elena isn’t the only person to be found guilty of a “crime” because of what she believes. Many other activists and journalists who are freely speaking their minds and writing about their ideas are being threatened by the Russian government. They are being arrested, ordered to pay the government money, and risk being thrown in jail.
Russia must get rid of laws that discriminate against LGBTI people and treat them unfairly. They must get rid of laws that make it hard for people to share ideas or to protest against something. As a first step, Russia needs to stop their campaign against Elena Klimova, Children 404, and other LGBTI activists and organizations.
Please write a letter to the prosecutor of Sverdlovsk.
Start your letter with ‘Dear Prosecutor’.
In the first sentence, share something about yourself to make your letter different from all the others he will receive.
Explain how important it is for LGBTI youth to have access to websites like Children 404. You could say that they provide an important and safe space for youth to connect with each other and seek support. This sort of website can help to save the lives of LGBTI youth who are being bullied and harassed.
Ask the Prosecutor to ensure that Elena’s right to freedom of expression is respected, and that she is not bullied or treated badly in connection with her Children 404 project.
Where do I send my message?
Sergei Alekseevich Ohlopkov
Prosecutor of Sverdlovsk Region
620219 Yekaterinburg GSP-1036
ul. Moskovskaia, 21
The area in red on the map is the Sverdlovsk region in Russia.
What else can I do?
• Collect signatures on our petition in support of Elena and Children 404. Download it at http://www.amnesty.ca/sites/default/files/russia_lgbti_petition_may_2015.pdf
• March with Amnesty in a Pride parade this summer. You can get more information about Pride events at www.amnesty.ca/our-work/issues/lgbt-rights/pride-and-amnesty
Where can I find out more?
Learn more about Amnesty’s work on LGBTI issues at www.amnesty.ca/lgbt.