NEW YORK — Four members of the advocacy group Queer Nation NY on Monday disrupted the Metropolitan Opera’s Opening Night Gala, demanding that pro-Putin Russian performers at the Gala — and the Met itself — end their silence on the Kremlin’s attacks on LGBT Russians.
The Queer Nation NY members unfurled a rainbow flag chanted “Putin, Stop, End Your War on Russian Gays!” and “Anna, Your Silence is Killing Russian Gays! Valery, Your Silence is Killing Russian Gays!” just before the opera began, delaying the start of the performance.
Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and soprano Anna Netrebko, who appeared in the Gala production of Eugene Onegin, written by the gay composer Peter Tchaikovsky, are longtime and vocal supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Queer Nation NY.
Earlier in the evening, Other protesters stood outside the opera’s Lincoln Center building and held up a banner that said “Support Russian Gays.”
In June, the Russian government enacted a law that bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.”
The law imposes fines of up to 5,000 rubl es ($150) for individuals and 1 million rubles ($30,000) for organizations, plus stiffer penalties for propaganda on the Web or in the media. Foreigners who violate the law are also subject to fines, plus prison sentences of up to 15 days, deportation and denial of re-entry into Russia.
Human rights advocacys say the laws have led to a a sharp rise in anti-LGBT violence in Russia that the government has refused to address.
In a petition that was signed by almost 10,000 people, the Met was asked to dedicate the Gala performance to LGBT people, but refused.
The Met issued a general statement in support of LGBT people but its general manager, Peter Gelb, adamantly refused to condemn the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians.