LGBT police officers met at QueerFest to take part in a discussion about homophobia. Goran Stanton, the founder of the Stockholm Gay Police Association, and five Russian police officers (three of which are now working for law enforcement agency, and two are ex-employees) told the auditory about their professional and personal affairs, answered the questions and estimated the perspectives of human rights movement in Russia.
While in Sweden homosexual police officers wearing uniform march in a special column on Gay Pride, Russian Police does not have any employees who are openly gay. Is it really possible — hasn't the President recently claimed that homosexuals "advance their career" without any restrictions? Nevertheless, the information about non-heterosexual orientation in the police can only be rumored about, and if the rumors are proved to be true, it is unlikely that the officer will keep his or her post. This happened to Alexander, who had to leave the service after 9 years of work because of homophobic baiting. Jenya, who publicly spoke in support of her gay colleague, also had to leave the service. Now they both take part in human rights public actions — the actions which their ex-colleagues have to disperse. Luckily, Julia, who patrols the streets, hasn't been on duty on the days when LGBT meetings are held. If this happens, she will have either to carry out the heads' orders or to retire. The choice is limited to these alternatives. "But everyone has conscience," says Alla, "After all, the accused at the Nuremberg Trials justified their actions with the fact that they had to carry out orders. So how can one act against their conscience and break activists' arms, pushing them into prisoner transport?"
Anna, who is investigating criminal cases, does not allow her subordinates to discriminate people on any basis, be it national origin, citizenship, gender or sexual orientation. She also cuts short any rumors about her sexual orientation, as well as any discussion of her personal life.
And what about the notorious "anti-gay-propaganda" law? The police officers haven't been given any special explanation on this. But, as Alla remarked, according to the public conscience, "if I say that I've been to the cinema with Peter, it is just a conversation, while if I say that I've been there with Mary, it is propaganda". And, as the people working in police are just the same as anywhere, the level of homophobia is also the same there. The situation could be changed by the work of human rights organizations and by passing anti-discrimination laws which would provide special punishment for hate crimes and hate speeches against LGBT people.
Participating in such meeting and, in fact, coming out could cost Russian police officers their career. We are grateful to them for their courage to speak out, and we are proud to have such people in our police.