Fringe LGBT gig held outside Russian consulate

HUNDREDS of people cheered leading comics at a stand-up gig held outside the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh today in protest over Russia’s “state-sponsored homophobia”.

Comedian Susan Calman wipes away tears outside the Russian Consulate. Picture: Neil Hanna

Scottish comedienne Susan Calman was close to tears as she told the crowd, which included festival goers, fellow performers, activists and local councillors, that the event was the “most remarkable thing she had ever been a part of.”

Speaking in between performing excerpts of his comic routine, award-winning British comedian and activist Mark Thomas urged the 300-strong audience to keep fighting human rights abuses of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) in Russia “after the razzmatazz of the festival was over”.

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The free, one-off gig in Melville Street comes amidst growing international condemnation of the Russian Government’s recent move to outlaw the promotion of homosexuality to children, with increasing calls for a boycott of Russia’s Winter Olympics at Sochi next year.

Scott Cuthbertson, of Scottish LGBT charity Equality Network, which jointly organised the event with host Thomas, said: “It’s an amazing turnout and it shows that we all really care about what’s going on in Russia...If we were in Russia right now there would also be police surrounding us but they would not be here to support us, or to protect us, they would have barricades up.”

One of the most colourfully-dressed members of the crowd - wearing a customised habit and elaborate makeup - was Brother Bimbo del Doppio Senso, of the Edinburgh convent of an international order of lesbian nuns known as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

She said: “We’re angry about what’s going on in Russia. It is the ultimate in trying to make people feel bad about being themselves and persecuting people who don’t do any harm to anyone.”

Fellow spectator Jamieson Walker, 78, a retired lecturer from Edinburgh, said: “I’m heterosexual but I came down today to support this.”

A spokesman for the consulate said it had no comment to make about the latest protest, which followed previous demonstrations.

Earlier this month openly-gay actor Rupert Everett used an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to voice his support for a boycott of Sochi 2014.