Things That Matter

Here’s How A Group Of Activists Secretly Broke The Homophobic Law Banning Gay Propaganda In Russia

While LGBTQ+ rights have come a long way in recent years, there are still so many countries in which the gay community is subject to persecution and even death. At least 10 countries have the death penalty if you are found to be homosexual including Sudan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.

In Russia, the current host of the World Cup, being gay isn’t a death sentence, but promoting it is illegal. Russia has strict laws about “the promotion of homosexuality” and waving the iconic rainbow flag is one of them. Being found guilty of spreading gay propaganda in Russia could land foreign visitors in jail for up to 15 days before being deported. But a group of LGBTQ+ activists used their time, and jerseys, at the World Cup to defy the law.

Six activists, four from Latin America, are bringing awareness to LGBT rights by displaying the rainbow flag in a very subtle way.

CREDIT: Twitter/@harleivy

The group is part of an organization Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales (FELGTB) that invited six activists from all over the world to highlight the discriminations against gays that are still going on today.

“Because of this, we have taken advantage of the fact the country is hosting the World Cup at the same time as Pride Month, to denounce their behavior and take the rainbow flag to the streets of Russia,” the group said on its website. “Yes, in the plain light of day, in front of the Russian authorities, Russian society and the whole world, we wave the flag with pride. How? In a way that no one would ever suspect. Football shirts.”

The six activists have been posing all over Russia wearing football shirts that fall in line with the rainbow flag colors.

CREDIT: Instagram/@lolamullenlowe

The colors includ the countries of Spain, The Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia, and are worn by Marta Márquez, Eric Houter, Eloi Pierozan Junior, Guillermo León, Vanesa Paola Ferrario, and Mateo Fernández Gómez.

Last year Alexei Smertin, a Russian soccer official, had said that the LGBT flag would be welcomed during the World Cup, however, that has not been the case.

“There will definitely be no ban on wearing rainbow symbols in Russia,” Smertin told The Guardian last year in anticipation of the World Cup in Russia. “It’s clear you can come here and not be fined for expressing feelings. The law is about propaganda to minors. I can’t imagine that anyone is going to go into a school and propagate that way to children.”

But that ordinance has not been followed. The video above is proof of that, and last month a Gay Rights activist was arrested when he expressed outrage of how the gay community was treated in Russia.

While the project — titled Hidden Flag — looks really amazing, at least one activist says he was really scared about what could happen if they got in trouble.

CREDIT: Twitter/@harleivy

Gómez, wearing the Colombia jersey, said the whole experience was not as fun as it looks.

“I was scared shitless,” he said on Instagram. “Still I was in Russia only for 3 days, of which I spent 15 hours retained in customs in the airport. But now I’m free to be myself. In Russia people don’t have that basic right.”

He adds that “out of this scary, marvelous, cool, humbling experience” he was able to meet five activists that he is now bonded with for life. “I got to meet what I can now call my gay/straight brothers and sisters in arms. Beautiful, good hearted, strong people. 3 days with you keeping the flag in order always being last in everything, taught me more than a life time of what I can now call gay privilege.”

See more pictures by clicking on #TheHiddenFlag.


READ: The LGBTQ+ Flag Just Got Updated And Its Generating Mixed Responses

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Tens Years After Its World Cup Debut, Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’ Video Crosses 2.5 Billion Views On YouTube

Entertainment

Tens Years After Its World Cup Debut, Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’ Video Crosses 2.5 Billion Views On YouTube

Sony Music

It’s been ten years since Shakira released “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” but the gifts for the song keep on giving.

At the time of its release, the song by the Colombian singer-songwriter peaked at number one on record charts of fifteen different countries. Ten years later, Shakira and her fans are celebrating the news on how the “Waka Waka” video just crossed 2.5 billion views on YouTube.

The singer shared the news with her fans on Instagram and Twitter.

The “Magia” singer wrote in a tweet “You guys really are amazing. Thank you!”

Shakira released the beloved song during the inauguration of FIFA World Cup which was held in South Africa in 2010.

At the time, the song was announced as the official 2010 FIFA World Cup Song. Shakira wrote and produced the song with the help of her previous collaborator, American record producer John Hill and the South African Afro-fusion band, Freshlyground. The singer had been inspired by the words “waka waka” used in the song from “Zangaléwa,” a 1986 ballad by a Cameroonian band called Golden Sounds. The song, “Zangaléwa” had been a hit across Africa as well as Colombia.

Watch the Waka video below.

Check out the Waka Waka video below.

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Using Social Media, Russia Is Accused Of Being Behind The Massive Protests Across Latin America

Things That Matter

Using Social Media, Russia Is Accused Of Being Behind The Massive Protests Across Latin America

Marcelo Hernandez

For months now, Latin America has been facing a political crisis as country after country has seen massive populist protest movements that have destabilized the region. From Chile to Puerto Rico, Bolivia to Ecuador, governments have struggled to respond to growing inequality – which has forced millions of Latinos to take to the street.

Many of these protest movements lack obvious leadership but they do share a few common threads. For one, they want to see more government accountability and actions against corruption. They also share a desire to fight growing income inequality which has stifled economic development for the region’s most vulnerable populations.

Now, a new report has tied many of these massive protest movements to Russian bots – which are seen as instigating and magnifying the region’s unrest.

The US has reportedly tied Russian bots to increased protest movements across Latin America.

Although the protest movements across Latin America share a few common threads, the majority of them are overwhelmingly different. In Chile, protests started over a planned increase in public transport fares. In Bolivia, it was against alleged voter fraud by then-President Evo Morales. In Puerto Rico, it was to fight back against alleged corruption and to hold leaders accountable for homophobic and misogynistic texts.

According to the US State Department, however, they’ve identified one theme they all seem to have in common: Russian interference.

In Chile, nearly 10 percent of all tweets supporting protests in late October originated with Twitter accounts that had a high certainty of being linked to Russia. While in Bolivia, tweets associated with Russian-backed accounts spiked to more than 1,000 per day – up from fewer than five.

And in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Chile over one 30-day period, Russia-linked accounts posted strikingly similar messages within 90 minutes of one another.

Senior diplomats from the US believe that Russia’s goal may be to increase dissent in countries that don’t support Maduro’s presidency in Venezuela.

Russia’s alleged campaign to help tap support for Maduro’s regime has resulted in mixed reviews. It’s not obvious how successful the campaign has been.

With the support of more than 50 other countries, the Trump administration has imposed bruising economic sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s government in Venezuela over the last year. The coalition is backing Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, whom most of Latin America and the rest of the West views as the country’s legitimate president.

Russia is working to expand its presence in Latin America, largely at Washington’s expense.

The US State Department frequently keeps tabs on Twitter traffic worldwide to monitor for potentially dangerous activities, like the proliferation of fake pages and user accounts or content that targets the public with divisive messages

“We are noting a thumb on the scales,” said Kevin O’Reilly, the deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing issues in the Western Hemisphere. “It has made the normal dispute resolutions of a democratic society more contentious and more difficult.”

Souring attitudes toward the United States throughout the region over trade and immigration issues, the rise of populist candidates, and the deepening internal economic and social challenges facing many Latin American countries create favorable circumstances for Russia to advance its interests.

About a decade ago, it became obvious that Russia was launching an online campaign to destabilize the region using new technology and social media.

There are Spanish-language arms of two Russian-backed news organizations that have been found to spread disinformation, conspiracy theories and, in some cases, obvious lies to undermine liberal democratic governments.

According to one state-financed group, RT Español, they’ve reached 18 million people each week across ten Latin American counties and have more than a billion views on YouTube. This is huge liability for the truth.

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