Among gay-rights activists in Russia, there have been mixed views of the protests unfolding in the U.S. and Western Europe. Some have expressed gratitude; others have second-guessed the motives and strategies.
“These boycotts and protests have not made any gains for the Russian LGBT community and won’t in the future,” said Nikolai Alexeyev, a pioneer of Russia’s gay-pride movement. “I believe that a lot of people in the West have been doing PR for themselves using Russian issues.”
He suggested that Western governments ban entry to any Russian politician involved in passing the anti-gay law.
Several U.S. activists stressed the importance of working with their counterparts in Russia.
“The challenge is to make sure that actions taken by advocates outside of Russia are done in concert with the LGBT community there and will help lead toward long-term change — not provoke a post-games backlash,” said Shawn Gaylord, advocacy counsel for Human Rights First. “That would be the worst case scenario.”
Overall, the protest campaign had driven home to U.S. activists that their recent victories on same-sex marriage and other domestic issues don’t guarantee swift successes for gay rights abroad.
“There’s some discouragement that it will be as difficult as we suspected,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “It just confirms the necessity of taking a long view, and not being distracted by the lack of a quick fix.”