Barents Pride is a Norwegian-Russian Pride that has been held in Kirkenes since 2017 by FRI, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Queer World, Amnesty and "Equals" from Russia. In 2020 and 2021, it has not been possible for Russian participants to attend the event in Kirkenes because of the pandemic. Therefore, we have had events on the border crossing point, Storskog, in addition to the parade in Kirkenes center.
Glitter, mohawks, slogans of love, and rainbows in all forms and shapes – the worlds only Norwegian-Russian Pride erupted with enthusiasm and creativity. Last Friday and Saturday, Kirkenes and guests from other parts of Norway gathered to celebrate love, and express solidarity with the Russian LGBTI community, at Barents Pride in Kirkenes.
This is the second time that closed borders made it impossible for Russian participants to take part. And on the Russian side of the border, it has been a year with increased pressure on the human rights of LGBTI persons.
And so the event started at the border itself, where people gathered with posters and banners. Big flags were waving in the strong wind, carrying the message “Love without borders”, as the symbolic act took place, underlining the huge differences in the treatment of LGBTI people on the respective sides of the border.
We miss our Russian friends
– Barents Pride is both a pride for people in Kirkenes, and the pride of our Russian friends. So gathering at the border, and walking in support of the brave work they are doing in Russia, is really important to us, says Mina Wikshåland Skouen, senior adviser and responsible for the LGBTI work in the NHC.
While these events were organized on the Norwegian side, Dignity Fest was carried out in Russia – and so it was still possible to organize joint panel talks, movie screenings, and to have a live stream from the parade itself.
– Even though the slogan of Barents Pride is that love has no borders, we see that the closed borders has prevented Barents Pride from being this safe and free platform that we wanted it to be. Next year, we will all meet again, says Skouen.