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Leeds gay bars and shops given rainbow makeovers in Sochi protest

James Jarman, shop assistant at Simply Pleasure, in Lower Briggate, Leeds, beside the shop's anti-Putin mural. Picture by Simon Hulme.

James Jarman, shop assistant at Simply Pleasure, in Lower Briggate, Leeds, beside the shop's anti-Putin mural. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Colourful Russian murals have been painted on to shopfronts in Leeds’s gay quarter amid the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The vibrant artwork at venues such as Simply Pleasure, Queens Court, The Bridge Bar, The New Penny, Blayds and The Viaduct Showbar comes in response to the treatment of Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community.

The area’s gaybars are also boycotting Russian vodka, while The Viaduct Showbar has produced a life-size cut out of Russian President Vladimir Putin and decorated him with make-up.

Ross McCusker, co-editor of www.gayleeds.com, said: “It is important that we make many people aware of the horrid treatment of gay and trans people in Russia, so what better time to highlight this abuse as when the world and indeed Leeds will be watching the Olympics there.”

He said the community is responding to Russia legally banning the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality, which was widely seen as an attack on gay rights in 2013.

For the duration of the Winter Olympics the murals, which were painted by Posh Fruit window art and artists from Leeds College of Art, will remain in place.

James Jarman is a shop assistant at the Simply Pleasure adult store, in Lower Briggate, which has a ‘To Russia with Love. Putin some pride in Sochi’ mural in its window.

He said: “We want to raise awareness of what’s going on and really we are just showing our support for the community in doing this.”

 

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