Onno Elderenbosch, a Dutch diplomat serving at the state’s embassy in Moscow, Russia, was beaten in his apartment on Tuesday, October 15. A heart with the words “LGBT” was drawn in lipstick on a mirror.
Tension has been building between Russia and the Netherlands in the past few weeks. This incident came just a week after a Russian diplomat was beaten by Dutch police in his home in The Hague.
The LGBT heart is speculated to be a reference to the Netherlands’ liberal attitude towards the queer community: LGBTQ rights have been protected by law since 1993, while Russia has recently passed legislation making “gay propaganda” illegal.
Russian gay rights advocate Nikolai Alexeyev believes the heart was intended to send a message – that in Russia, unlike the Netherlands, certain behaviors are not accepted.
“It [the attack]was deriding the Netherlands and their liberal treatment of sexual minorities,” Alexeyev told Interfax. “I think they [the assailants]did what they did to emphasize that such things are inadmissible in Russia.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Wednesday, October 16 that the beating was “deplorable” and that Russian officials were investigating the attack and doing everything necessary to find the culprits.
The homophobic culture in Russia, however, is allowed to continue, with Russian actor and dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov being the latest to denounce the “Gay Propaganda” laws in a statement to the No More Fear Foundation.
“My life has been immensely enriched by gay mentors, colleagues and friends and any discrimination and persecution of gay people is unacceptable,” Baryshnikov, said in the statement. “Equal treatment of people is a basic right and it is sad that we still have to even speak about this in [the]21st century.”