The 2014 Sochi Olympics brought Russia’s virulently anti-gay laws and culture to global attention, but the international spotlight has since dimmed on the plight of LGBT Russians. Director Ben Steele explores their everyday struggle not just for acceptance but simply the right to exist in the new HBO documentary, Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia, narrated by Matt Bomer.
Homosexuality was legalized in Russia 21 years ago, but gay people in the country have yet to win mainstream acceptance. In fact, attitudes in Russia appear to be moving backwards. With jobs and relationships at risk if their sexual orientation is exposed, most gay Russians remain closeted. As one gay man who lost sight in one eye during a recent unprovoked attack says ruefully, “Hunting season is open…and we are the hunted.”
Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia features disturbing insider footage of homophobic Russians who, in the name of morality or religion, beat and torment gay people, posting graphic videos of their encounters online with few or no legal repercussions. These vigilantes see homosexuality as related to pedophilia, stating publicly that their justification for violence is protecting Russia’s children.
Check out the trailer below:
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Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia airs on HBO October 6 at 9pm.