Chicago Gay Rights Activist Attacked During Russian Demonstration

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago gay-rights activist who was arrested in Russia by Moscow police during a pride demonstration last month is back home and talking about the experience.

American Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, was one of more than a dozen demonstrators who planned to march in the Russian capital. They never got the chance. Russian nationalists attacked them first, and then the demonstrators were dragged off by police. 

Thayer watched a video of the incident with CBS 2’s Mike Parker and called the actions by the mob and police “infuriating.”

“A transgender activist was kicked four to five times on the pavement and another activist, a lesbian activist, was hospitalized for about four or five days,” Thayer said.

Thayer said he was grabbed by a man with close-cropped hair and a camouflage outfit. He believes the man was one of the “neo-fascists” he said were attacking demonstrators.

The arrests near Red Square came on May 28, shortly after the European Court of Human Rights criticized the Russian government for refusing to allow gay-pride demonstrations.

Among those arrested was Dan Choi, the former U.S. Army lieutenant who challenged the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and Louis Georges-Tin, the French founder of the International Day Against Homophobia.

In a video shot inside the cramped police van that hauled the demonstrators away, Choi is heard complaining that had been hit in the ear. After being held in the hot crowded van for three hours, the Americans and the others were simply let go.

Thayer said this was his second arrest in Moscow. The first was in 2009. He said he’ll go back again, regardless of the danger.

“This is the way civil rights have always been won,” he said.

On paper, homosexuality has been legal in Russia since 1993, but there are no laws forbidding discrimination against gay people.

CBS 2 sought comment from the Russian Embassy in Washington but did not receive a reply.

  • Mr. Justice

    Perhaps you should stay in the United States and not poke your nose into the business of other countries. I am sure the Russians did not want you there and you got a taste of their police power. I have been to Russia and found the people to be very friendly. However, the police do not take any garbage from anyone. So, next time, stay at home and shut up you big whiner.

    • A Human Being

      Answering the invitation of Russian activists and traveling all that way to stand with them is an inspiring act of courage. Calling the struggle for equal rights “whining” is ridiculously stupid.

  • J

    Try China next time! Do you really think any of these countries care? Stay in the U.S. and be thankful for what you have.

  • Bill T.

    They don’t tolerate any tom foolery by sick puppies like we do in the US.

  • Pothead

    So true. Russia and China don’t like you bone chukkers.

  • Pothead

    Thayer says he’ll go back again. I guess chances are pretty good that he was gang raped in jail.

  • Next Darwin Award Winner

    Everyone knows that Russia has always had such a deep and rich history of respecting the freedom of expression! And her history of resolving issues by democratic means has always been at the forefront globally.


    What’s next for Thayer? A publiuc burning of the K O r a n in downtown Mecca? How about putting on a play insulting Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang? No, I’ve got it! Organize an orgy in St. Peter’s in Rome!

    Now I can see why we Americans are so beloved worldwide.

  • southside

    He should take his protest to Syria, Libya and Iran next. They will be so receptive.

  • Ryne

    Thayer apparently is turning the bigots on. They have nothing better or more productive to do than to follow his publicity whenever it pops up. Go masturbate else where. God forbid a gay man ever shows some strength and hutza, “straight” society becomes outraged

  • Laurel Lambert Schmidt

    Mr. Thayer has shown great courage in his stand for gay rights here and in Moscow. There is no reason why we should disparage his non-violent efforts to protect those who have suffered discrimination, except our own prejudice.

  • Matt G

    Bravo Andy, inspiring solidarity!

  • Pictures: ‘Wife-carrying’ champion wins again | Russia

    […] 04. Jul, 2011 0 Comments Click Here! “National Interest: Russia and Georgia” Television Programme Image by Alex Minza Russia and Georgia have lately been in a state of a deep political conflict. Yet, the two countries share a lot in common: history, culture and, most importantly, people. The Old New Year Dmitry Kiselev’s program "National Interest" on Russia’s biggest national TV channel gathered some of the very famous Georgeans in TV studios in Moscow and Tbilisi. Famous actors, musicians, writers, film directors, and most importantly, old friends, they were exchanging warm memories, funny stories and were wishing each other love, peace and prosperity. Not a word about politics – yet, the program participants were in fact separated by the political boundaries escalated after October 2006. It was for the first time that side-by-side with satellite TV bridge there was a low-latency Internet audio/video bridge enabled by Musigy Music Conferencing technology. Using this "music" Internet TV bridge the musicians in two studios performed together creating a warm atmosphere of love, peace and mutual understanding with a universal language of music. Program Recording posted on YouTube Photos : champion “Wife transport” wins again HELSINKI – A pair of Finns have won the country’s annual wife carrying competition for the third consecutive year, organizers said Saturday. Kristiina Haapanen Taisto Miettinen and defended his title in front of 6,500 spectators who came to see the event in Sonkajarvi. Read more on Straits Times Flyers land Jagr, Talbot On the west side of Pennsylvania is the Steel City. On the other hand, at least in the circles of hockey on Friday, is the city of stealing. The Philadelphia Flyers with New Look, were in again on Friday as he crossed the first day of free agency with four signings, two of which damage to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins in the state. Read more on The Japan Times Chicago activist attacked gay rights during the demonstration of Russia Andy Thayer has twice been arrested in Russia, but says he will not be intimidated in an effort to advance gay rights. CBS 2 Mike Parker reports. Read more on CBS Chicago […]

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