Russian gay attacks 'no worse than UK abuse of gingers'

Russian embassy objects to Channel 4 documentary exposing gangs who hunt and torture gay people

LAST UPDATED AT 14:45 ON Wed 12 Feb 2014

RUSSIAN diplomats have said their country's anti-gay attacks are no worse than the UK's "abuse" of people with ginger hair.

The Russian embassy was responding to a Channel 4 documentary, Hunted, which looks at a vigilante group called Occupy Paedophilia that lures, humiliates and tortures gay people in Russia.

The embassy described the documentary as "hate propaganda" and "full of distorted facts and unverifiable allegations", the Daily Telegraph reported. "One could have easily whipped up such a 'documentary' about a hunting season on redheads in the UK," the embassy added, "saying that 'ginger' people face unmotivated verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis."

President Vladimir Putin has faced international criticism for introducing a law that bans "homosexual propaganda" among minors. Campaigners say it has encouraged abuse of gay people in the country.

In the Channel 4 programme, a gay man is lured back to a flat and held down as the group set about extracting a "confession" from him. "We will ruin his life, as usual," one member says.

The embassy said the leader of Occupy Paedophilia had since been arrested and charged with extremism, but it also appeared to defend the group, saying: "As its name suggests, [it] targets only paedophiles both straight and gay".

The diplomats described the documentary as a "well-engineered campaign of slander" timed to coincide with the Winter Olympics and added that the attacks on gays are "few and far between and by no means reflect general sentiments of the Russian people".

However, one victim, who was left blinded in one eye after an anti-gay attack, tells the Channel 4 programme he can almost understand why the groups target gay men, as the country's anti-gay propaganda law silences anyone who speaks positively or neutrally about gay rights.

"First they stopped us responding," he says, "and then they called us paedophiles and rapists."

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