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Performing at conservative festival in Yekaterinburg, Russian musician surprises audience with speech in defense of LGBTQ rights

Source: Meduza

While headlining at a festival over the weekend in Yekaterinburg dedicated to “traditional family values,” “Therr Maitz” frontman Anton Belyaev spoke from the stage in defense of LGBTQ rights. The musician later posted footage of his remarks on Instagram. 

“Among my friends, I count more than a few people with LGBT pride, and many of these people have influenced my life. Some have helped me in tough situations, others have changed the way I see the world, and I’m thankful to them for this — no more or less than I’m grateful to everyone else I’ve met along the way. Everyone has their own story and you can think what you want about minorities, but you should definitely not beat up or humiliate someone just because he doesn’t love what you love and wants to live and feel differently. Sometimes this is hard, but you’ve got to find the strength inside yourself. Let that become a tradition,” Belyaev wrote on Instagram.

On social media, Therr Maitz’s fans had expressed outrage that the band agreed to perform at the festival in Yekaterinburg, which was organized by the “Sorok Sorokov” (Forty Times Forty) movement — an Orthodox Christian organization that says it defends “traditional spiritual and moral values” — in direct opposition to the “Ural Pride Week” staged by the local LGBT Resource Center. Belyaev responded that he was unaware of the nature of the event and its organizers and said the band had merely been invited to perform on Russia’s Family Day. 

Following Belyaev’s speech and post on Instagram, Sorok Sorokov head Andrey Kormukhin accused Therr Maitz’s frontman of acting “like a prostitute.” “Our festival was apolitical and outside any value judgments. The festival in no way implied any fight [against the LGBTQ community]. There wasn’t a word about that… We planned to avoid any political statements about it because [the event] was dedicated to the family, family relationships, and family ties. That’s why Mr. Belyaev’s actions were simply dishonorable on his part, taking money for a performance and bringing politics into a family festival where there were many women and children,” Kormukhin told Open Media.

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