As part of our work in Russia, the Equal Rights Trust works with the Russian LGBT Network to support Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons through legal and psychological assistance, as well as raising awareness on LGBT rights. The Network helps a number of support centres throughout Russia, one of which is situated in Yekaterinburg. In 2015 we spoke to the centre’s psychologist who explained more about the psychological programme which helps LGBT persons deal with homophobia.
How frequently do LGBT persons come to you after experiencing homophobia?
At present I only get around one or two requests from people who would like to talk about the homophobia they experience. I am sure there are many more people who need this psychological support but they are afraid to talk about their problems - they are just not ready to start this conversation.
Do you carry out one-to-one sessions or are there other programmes provided through the centre?
The consultations and meetings are conducted individually and online and the majority of people who seek psychological help take several consultations. We also provide group sessions at the centre.
Is it difficult to encourage LGBT persons to speak about their problems?
There are people who ready to talk about their problems at individual meetings because they are familiar with the activities of the centre and feel confident, but during group meetings not everyone can start a conversation.
What are the different ways LGBT persons can find out about the psychological services at the centre?
We tell the community about our programme at different events and meetings, at these events participants can meet personally with the psychologist and make an appointment. We also put a lot of publicity on social networks, so I don't think that it is hard to find our centre.
Are psychological services of this kind hard to find in Russia?
The nearest largest cities have similar organisations but in smaller towns the situation is much worse, and these services are extremely hard to find.
Do clients usually seek your support for physical or emotional violence?
Mostly LGBT persons come for the emotional violence they have experienced. I know there are cases of physical violence - however these people have not sought help at our centre yet.
What are the typical psychological traumas bought to you?
Most of the clients come with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and a loss of confidence in the community, and of these, depression is the most common.
What are the main challenges you face?
Because of the environment we live in, there is a great deal of internal homophobia that the clients experience against themselves. They also deny their need for psychological help and have a distrust of the LGBT community. But on a positive note, I do see visible progress being made with those who do seek help.
Read more in an interview with a coordinator of a Russian LGBT support centre.
Read more in an interview with Rainbow World - an organisation also supported by the Russian LGBT Network and the Equal Rights Trust.
Read more in an interview with a Russian LGBT activist who now lives in New York following an extended period of discrimination in Russia.
Read more in an overview of our work in Russia.