Russia: Court Rejects ‘Homo’ Libel Suit Against Moscow Mayor
Russian gay community leader Nikolai Alexeyev waves a flag during a banned gay rally in Moscow in 2008. (AFP/Dmitry Kostyukov)
Friday Oct 2, 2009 – MOSCOW (AFP) – A Russian court on Friday dismissed a long-shot libel suit filed by gay activists against Moscow’s veteran mayor in a ruling that they described as a blow to human dignity in Russia.
The suit had been filed after Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, speaking on television in June, called Russian gay activists seeking to organize a gay pride parade “gomiki,” a derogatory word that can be translated as “homos.”
“Our society has healthy morals and does not accept all these homos,” Luzhkov told TV Centre, a channel owned by his administration, according to the website GayRussia.ru, whose activists filed the libel suit.
A spokeswoman for Moscow’s Tverskoi court said the hearing had taken place Friday and the libel suit had been dismissed for lack of evidence.
“The court has refused to sustain the plaintiff’s claim,” said spokeswoman Alexandra Berezina.
Had he lost the suit, Luzhkov would have had to pay one kopeck, a Russian coin of the smallest denomination, as symbolic compensation to the gay activists.
Nikolai Alexeyev, Russia’s leading gay activist and an organiser of the gay pride parade, said he would appeal the court decision, adding that activists had not expected any other ruling in the run-up to local elections later this month.
“This is the de-facto legalization of discourtesy, offence, disparagement of human dignity,” Alexeyev said of the ruling.
“It means we live in a state where human dignity means nothing,” he told AFP.
Luzhkov has repeatedly banned gay pride parades, calling them “satanic acts” but arguing that he wanted to protect homosexuals in a society where homophobic sentiments run high.