The men and women who took to the streets in Australia for LGBTI rights in and created the iconic Mardi Gras parade will come together again to protest the treatment of gay men in Chechnya.
The ‘78ers’ marched through Darlinghurst in 1978 to promote equality. But they were descended on by local police, violently attacked, jailed and had their names printed in major newspapers.
Their historic march would go on to become the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Disturbing news reports revealed Chechen officials were rounding up gay men . More than 100 men have been tortured with at least four killed. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has vowed to remove all gay men from his republic by May 26, the beginning of Ramadan .
Demonstrations in support of gay Chechen have been held around the world as the international community condemns the actions of the government .
Back to their protesting past
The 78ers will return to their roots when they protest the plight of Chechen gays. They will protest at Russia’s Consulate in Sydney on Saturday at 5pm.
‘The persecution of LGBTI people in many parts of the world is acute and worsening, despite huge strides elsewhere,’ said the 78ers in a statement.
‘For those of us who struggled to emerge from our own past homophobic conditions characterizing our lives in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s we express solidarity with our Chechen brothers and sisters.
‘We assert the right for sexual minorities in all parts of the world to live without fear and to be free from persecution, intimidation, entrapment, arbitrary arrest, and violence.
‘Further we call for the Australian Government to reassert these rights.’
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop raised concerns about the reported gay concentration camps in Chechnya .
‘We have raised concerns directly with the Russian government,’ she said.