Omar (left) at a kiss-in protest in August, 2013.
A Vancouver LGBT activist claims that he was attacked at the Guangzhou airport when another foreign man recognized him as the organizer of protests against Russia’s antigay legislation, according to Straight.com.
Yogi Omar, a permanent Canadian resident of Chinese ethnicity from Indonesia, was on his way home to Vancouver from a visit to Guangzhou in January when the assault happened, he told the Georgia Straight by phone.
Omar said he was walking from the subway entrance of the Guangzhou airport when a man approached him and asked him in English if he was the organizer of the kiss-in protest event. He described the man as having an Eastern European accent.
Omar had organized two such protests at the Russian Consulate in Vancouver last year and a third at the opening gala of the Vancouver Queer Film Festival last summer.
Before he could reply to the man, Omar said he was unexpectedly punched in the stomach by the stranger.
“I was really surprised that this person recognized me because we’re in a land of Asian people so how can you pick out me?” Omar said. “But then I realized I was wearing a bright purple skinny jeans. I did kind of stand out a little bit.”
A crowd gathered around and separated them, but when the man began yelling in Mandarin “Hey! He’s a gay!” they apparently released him.
Omar said he kicked the man and ran to nearby police for help, who told him in broken English that he should just “let this go”.
“He was like, ‘Oh, you should let this go,’ ” Omar said. “And I was like, ‘Why?’ And he was like, ‘He’s in the right. And nothing would happen anyway so you should just let this go.’ And I felt really helpless….”
When he landed in Seoul, Omar posted about the incident to his Facebook page. “…I’m still mad but at the same time, I’m pretty happy that I fought back because I’ve never been in an incident like this before where I was attacked because I was gay,” he wrote. He hopes that he can use the experience to bring attention to the issue of LGBT rights.
Kiss-in demonstrations were held at Russian consulates across Canada and all over the world last year in protest of the Russian law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. Another organizer of an event in Montreal said that “If we put pressure on our own government and the Olympic Committee to put pressure on Vladimir Putin to change those laws, I think that will help the LGBT community down there.”
Russian police already arrested four gay rights activists on the opening day of the 2014 Sochi Olympics after they gathered on St. Petersburg’s Vasilyevsky Island holding banners referring to Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement.”
[Image via Facebook]