Contextual Statement

Due to the Winter Olympics and Paralympics held in Sochi this year the worlds media attention turned to Russia, in just a short amount of time the news blew up with masses of information, documentaries and stories about the harshening treatment of homosexuals and transgenders.
            New legislation has been brought in over recent years limiting the freedoms of gays within Russia, despite huge progress made by the country such as in 1993 sexual activity between two consenting same sex adults became legal, shortly after in 1999 homosexuality was then declassified as a mental illness, approximately 30 years behind the United Kingdom. In 1997 transgender individuals were able to legally change their gender and from 2003 onwards the age of consent for homosexuals was the same as straight individuals. The recent pieces of legislation passed which limit gay rights includes the distribution of homosexual propaganda meaning there is no right to claim that same sex couples and gay couples are equal and to raise awareness of how homosexuals are being treated and why it is wrong, as this would involve distributing information along with claims that they are equal to other relationships. Another is the banning of group protests, and that there has to be a certain distance between any individuals who are, although it has been reported in various documentaries that when the police see people following these guidelines but doing the picketing for gay rights they are moved along/arrested regardless of how well they have followed the guidelines, whereas others who do the same but for other causes see a more lenient approach.
            Despite the news stories beginning to change some peoples views on harsher laws within our own country, some people may find the pieces to almost ridicule homosexuals, as opposed to being a symbol of support, however due to the designs for the characters being taken from an event which gives homosexuals the opportunity to be seen exactly how they feel comfortable, I feel that it is working to show support from those individuals as opposed to working to mock them.
            Recently support symbols have began to appear in Leeds for the people suffering under these laws, for example a shop window mural in the ‘Gay Quarter.’ Which shows that there are people within the community who want to show support for those people and this is why I intend to create a piece which takes an icon of Russias, and change it completely, just as in the shop window and in other things where Putin and even the winter Olympics have been adapted. The sculptures will be displayed in Millenium Square before and during the Gay Pride parade, but will be confined within a traditional doll until the day, where they will be revealed ceremoniously. Millenium Square has been the meeting point for the Gay Pride parades within Leeds since they began in 2006 and due to this I feel it is the most suitable place for the sculptures.

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