A reporter appearing on “Russia Today,” a network funded by the Russian government, used his platform to criticize the country’s anti-gay laws. James Kirchick was scheduled to be part of a panel discussion about Bradley Manning, the Army private found guilty of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. That’s not what happened, though.
Instead Kirchick went after the government for passing a law in June, making it illegal to spread “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. “Being here on a Kremlin-funded propaganda network, I’m going to wear my gay-pride suspenders,” he says, “and I’m going to speak out against the horrific, anti-gay legislation that Vladimir Putin has signed into law.”
When the host of the program tried to get him back on the topic of Manning, Kirchick replies, “I’m not really interested in talking about Bradley Manning. I’m interested in talking about the environment of homophobia in Russia right now.” He also wants gay people who live in Russia to know “they have friends and allies in solidarity from people all over the world.”
Kirchick then asked the host of the show how she sleeps at night, adding, “You have 24 hours a day to lie about the United States and to ignore what’s happening in Russia.” James tweeted after his appearance, in which he was taken off the air, that Russia Today had his taxi cab drop him off on the side of the road on the way to the airport.
A spokesperson for the network says, in a statement to Politico, “Mr. Kirchick was invited to appear on RT’s panel as author of article ‘Bradley Manning gets off easy,’ in order to contribute to RT’s discussion of the Bradley Manning verdict — obviously the major international news event.
Mr. Kirchick decided to instead use this time to express his opinion on LGBT rights, a matter which, while important, was entirely unrelated to the subject of the panel. Regretfully, RT had no other recourse but to continue the discussion without him.”