The police stop Kiril from carrying out a single person picket

HBO documentary reveals the dire and dangerous situations facing Russia’s LGBT community

By David-Elijah Nahmod - Oct. 23, 2014

Ben Steele's terrifying new documentary Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia, informs us that the situation for LGBT people in Russia is far more dire than we in the United States may have realized.

Steele takes his cameras directly into a country that's population has become obsessed, in the worst way possible, with LGBT people.

Steele is allowed into the "inner sanctum" of Occupy Pedophilia, a loose network of homophobic young people who spend their free time cruising gay chat rooms so they can lure gay men into their lair. Once the victim is trapped, shocking acts of degradation occur, which are usually videotaped and posted online (Steele shows us actual footage).

In a Russia, where President Vladimir Putin signed a draconian law making it a crime to promote any positive images of the gay community, members of Occupy Pedophilia are free to torture people openly and with total impunity. They giggle and laugh at Steele's camera, and at their own camera, as a weeping gay man refuses to reveal his name.

"Are you gay or bisexual?" they ask him. "Do your parents know? Will you lose your job?" The interrogator freely admits that her intent is to destroy his life. Her comrades nod in approval.

Earlier in the film we meet a married father who spends as much time as he can online looking for gay men he can out. He also goes after straight allies. He also says that he wants to destroy gay people's lives. They have no right to be in his country, he says.

Steele also visits the home visits a lesbian couple that has three children. With the faces of the family blurred for their own safety, as they live in fear that the government might take the kids away.

Out on the street, small numbers of LGBT people attempt to protest the inhumane treatment they're being subjected to. As passersby insult them, the documentary captures the magnitude of the inexplicable hate the average Russian feels for it's LGBT community.

This isn't the "love the sinner hate the sin" approach of American anti-gay churches. This is "We hate you. We want to hurt you."

Steele and Matt Bomer, the film's narrator, offer little explanation for this escalation in anti-LGBT hate across the country. Rather, they simply present what is. It's a disturbing portrait of a sick society and it's brutalization of a people who need our help.

The film, which premiered on HBO Oct. 6, will air in rotation through Nov. 20 and be available at HBO on Demand until Nov. 3.

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