They know they won’t get elected, but that won’t stop them from trying.
Aleksei Korolyov and Bulat Barantayev, two openly gay men and longtime activists, are running for seats in Russia’s Duma elections on Sept. 28. They are running in response to the homophobic policies of Russian government — and Vladimir Putin.
Barantayev, 33, shared his reasoning with Radio Free Europe.
“For a long time now, I have used all opportunities to cultivate an audience for accepting LGBT people,” Barantayev told Radio Free Europe. “By my example, I show that gays in Russia can create their own successful businesses, can meet with people, can have children, and can even run for the State Duma.”
State Duma is the lower house of the Federal Assembly. Although the men face some risk by running as openly gay candidates, Barantayev believes that he is “risking less than other candidates.”
"The leader of the Novosibirsk branch of Parnas, Yegor Savin, is under tremendous pressure,” he told RFE. “His assistant was recently assaulted. People who are distributing his leaflets have been threatened over the phone. The building where his business is located was set on fire."
In comparison, Barantayev believes he faces little risk because he is not seen as a threat.
"The authorities believe there is no chance I'll be elected in today's Russia. So they don't pay any attention to me."
Korolyov, 29, told the publication: "We can't hide and be afraid. The discriminatory law has activated the LGBT community and has spurred development. We recognize that if we don't do politics, politics will do us."