News of violent homophobia from Russia does not surprise me.
Yet I was still shocked watching the YouTube video of a social experiment by ChebuRussiaTV. The experiment involved two young straight presenters, Artem Frantsuzov and Jay Babenko, pretending to be gay. They walked around Moscow hand in hand, with a hidden camera thrown in to capture the reactions of the Russian people.
The experiment follows the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, which declared marriage equality a constitutional right.
The video has gone viral, attracting over three million views in just two days. Despite my very low expectations of Russia, the video still shocked me, especially the two very physical confrontations. In the first a man deliberately shoulder-charges one of these brave, foolish young man, while in the second incident another man is clearly priming himself for a punch-up.
The video highlights how quickly a government can shift cultural attitudes to make public hatred and physical violence against a minority acceptable, and the need for eternal vigilance when it comes to the protection of equality and human rights.
However, we are not entitled to feel completely smug about the current state of affairs in Russia given the US reaction to marriage equality and some attitudes toward marriage equality in Australia.