Hunted by Ben Steele ›› Hunted

a documentary by Ben Steele.

2014 | 49 mins | UK.

Adapted Synopsis: "Six months after its parliament passed a law that bans all positive and neutral references to "non-traditional" relationships under the guise of "protecting children," Russia is welcoming gay athletes and spectators to the Sochi Winter Olympics of 2014. Yet in this alarming Dispatches documentary, reporter Liz MacKean and director Ben Steele found themselves witness to a climate, far from friendly."

Dave says:-

This is one of the most distressing documentaries I've seen in a long time, given this work and to its credit has shone the spotlight on the widespread hostility towards gay people in Russia, a bitter hatred that has culminated in extremist gangs all but free to target homosexual men and woman in what has become known as "hunting season." Stalking their prey, often by way of gay dating websites, groups of the like of the St Petersburg branch of Occupy Paedophilia movement have flourished, intent on capturing and humiliating unsuspecting minds, before going on to post trophy styled footage of their victims online; footage that is as harrowing to watch, as it was frightening for those innocent men and women caught in the bloody grip of homosexual persecution.

Yet as MacKean and Steele were to discover, being drenched in urine, tortured and beaten up is the lesser of two evils. For here, they came face to face with the shocking reality of being gay in Russia today, as 25-year-old Dima found himself left blinded for life in one eye, after armed thugs stormed a community centre in St Petersburg. That such gangs operate with impunity, in a country in which the State has branded homosexuals as paedophiles in the public eye, has not surprisingly resulted with the majority of Russia's LGBT youth opting to stay firmly in the closet - in fear of their very life; that of an open-ended hunting season, where gays are hunted like animals.

A hunting season is open in Hunted.

A hunting season is open in Hunted.

Yet as this telling documentary went on to highlight, some brave individuals are not afraid to show their face and shout for their rights, whilst others in the teaching profession, straights included, are even prepared to put their careers at risk by extending the open hand of sexual acceptance. Yet the law and social attitudes are against them, fuelled by both the State and the homophobic sermons of the Russian Orthodox Church. Only what does this say of Russia? Namely, a country that refuses to denounce acts of hate crime, lets the perpetrators walk free and rather than set in motion a zero tolerance policy to homophobia, instead passes a law that could be applied to take the children of same-sex couples legally away from them.

State officials will no doubt counter by citing that the Sochi Winter Olympics embraced all men and women, regardless of their sexual orientation, race or religious and political convictions. Look outside the box however and international rights groups have described the current situation as the worst human rights climate in the post-Soviet era, while Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva has called the passage of the law against gay propaganda "a step toward the Middle Ages." Yet is this any wonder, when in announcing that gays should feel welcome at Sochi, Vladimir Putin went on to ask them to "leave children in peace."

That the President of a country that is a member of the influential G8 forum should deliberately speak of homosexuality and paedophilia in the same breath, is a clear signal of the shameful step backward that Russia is taking in human rights, under his leadership. Indeed, on viewing this chilling documentary, you cannot help but be left with the sinking feeling that things can only get worse for our LGBT friends once the games and international attention it generates, has moved on.

a Channel 4 premiere

Wednesday, 5th February, 2014 / 22:00 to 23:00.
Copyright 2014 David Hall -
archive reference #2014010
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