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Leeds Pussy Riot Solidarity Flashmob – Michael Johnson

Dressed in brightly coloured balaclavas, wooly stockings and costumes inspired by the punk group Pussy Riot, over 200 people gathered in Leeds city centre to protest the treatment of the group in Russia, specifically three members of the group being arrested in February following a performance of their “punk-prayer” on the altar of Moscow’s main orthodox cathedral. They have been charged with “hooliganism” and were held in jail for nearly six months awaiting trial.

Inspired by the actions of the punk group’s protests in defence of women’s and LGBT rights the assembled protestors decided not only to focus solely on the arrest and trial of Pussy Riot but also invoke the groups’ spirit and protest recent homophobic comments by a local pub owner.

The pub owner Lewis Cuddy first posted on twitter during Leeds Pride: “So once again it’s time for lots of people to celebrate the fact that they are all socially unable to be normal. Well done. When is Leeds first peado pride event? Or is it just the same thing. Bonkers.” When pushed for an apology Cuddy first tried to explain that his comments were only meant for close friends before going on to say “any of my close friends know that I have a massive problem with gay pride, not because of gay people but the attitude of the council … [t]his is what angers me, why should a minority have different rights to the majority. Maybe saying that paedophiles should get their own minority event was a bit strong but clearly the people who my comments were aimed at would understand.”

To make it clear that this ‘apology’ wouldn’t be accepted, the assembled Pussy Riot flashmob also marched to two of Cuddy’s pubs protesting outside “we’re here, we’re queer, we will not buy your beer!”

The socialist party calls for the immediate release of Pussy Riot and all those arrested around the recent opposition protests and for all charges to be dropped, as well as for the LGBT movement to stand up to discrimination, continuing the fightback against homophobia this protest shows can happen.

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