Melbourne Queer Film Festival Says To Russia With LoveMQFF is reaching out to the LGBTIQ community of Russia with this billboard.

Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) has created a billboard to reach out to the LGBTIQ community in Russia, who don’t enjoy the same freedoms that the Australian LGBTIQ community have.

While Australia still doesn’t have marriage equality, the LGBTIQ community here can celebrate diversity and difference in other ways. Happily, this is what MQFF has been doing for 26 years.

MQFF Executive Director Dillan Golightly has said, “For 26 years, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival has loudly celebrated being proudly different. But there are plenty of queer communities who don’t enjoy this privilege, including Russia’s. We wanted to send a message of solidarity and hope [to them].”

The billboard translates to read, “To Russia with Love; Please join our live stream of the opening night of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. (We wanted to put this up in Russia, but it’s illegal.).”

Russia’s gay propaganda law makes it impossible to deliver the same message on the streets of Moscow.

The festival decided to invite Russia’s queer community to the opening night by live streaming to Russia on the live video app Periscope to display the solidarity and hope that Golightly speaks of. However, Golightly said they hit a brick wall when spreading the word.

“When we contacted people in Russia about putting posters up, we discovered that if they did, they’d be breaking the law.”

This did not deter the festival; it only made them more determined to advertise their message. The poster has been put up in Melbourne in the hopes that the internet will do its job and get the message to Russia.

Golightly believes this should also be a reminder “not to take what we have for granted in Australia, despite still having a way to go. It also reminds us just how important events like the Melbourne Queer Film Festival are.”

“The more we come up against bigotry and negativity, the more we need to demonstrate our solidarity and commitment, and the more vital it is that we continue bringing proudly different stories to the big screen.”