Archive for the ‘Gay Parade’ Category

Religious and Nationalist Groups call for the ban of St Petersburg Pride

Sent by Nicolas Alexeyev

Extracts of a letter addressed to the Governor of the City.

A group of Religious and Nationalist organizations sent a common letter to the Governor of St Petersburg, Valentina Matvienko, asking her to prohibit any gay pride march in the city.

The letter of which ‘rusk.ru’ received a copy says:

“We are categorically against holding any public events, which in any way present a propaganda of sexual perversions.

“Any parade is a demonstration – demonstration is a form of propaganda. As a result, a gay pride is a propaganda of homosexuality.

“Love between a man and a woman exists only for one purpose – to give birth to a new life but gay pride is the propaganda of death”

“But why does no one remember that holding these actions grossly violates the right of the majority and is doubtful from the point of moral action?

“After all, for the majority of our country and, in particular, for our city, homosexuality is an unacceptable deviation from the norm, a moral rejection and a disgust.

“We are constantly told that democracy is the government of majority, but it turns out that the interests of the majority would be sacrificed to a handful of people with unnatural sexual orientation”

The statement is signed by several nationalists and religious groups among them “Intellectuals of the Orthodox Church; Russian Imperial Movement; Movement “For Faith and Fatherland”, “People’s Cathedral”, “Imperial Russia Union”.

The first official gay pride in St Petersburg is scheduled on June 26.

GayRussia.Ru

http://www.gayrussia.ru/en/news/detail.php?ID=15227

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Belgrade Gay Pride March Banned

Belgrade Pride 2009 Organizing Committee would like to declare that, during the meeting with the Serbian Prime Minister today, they were issued an official decree signed by the Head of Serbian Police, Milorad Veljovic, which states that the public safety corps of the Republic of Serbia are not able to ensure the Constitutional right for a peaceful assembly on the Square in front of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade.

Even though the decree given by the Ministry of the Interior is written in the form of a recommendation for the change of location of the Pride March to the Belgrade estuary, or in front of the Palata Srbije, a government building and home of many state ministries, it is absolutely unmistakeable that the Pride March 2009 has been banned. Despite the declarations of support given by the highest representatives of the government, in which they exalt the freedom of any and all social groups, LGBT community included, to publicly manifest their demands, the government did not put money where its mouth is. There was no act to support the rhetoric.

This decree is a formal admittance of the government sections of the Republic of Serbia that they are not able to adequately prevent and sanction the threats coming from the clero-fascist organizations, nor are they able to ensure the constitutional rights and freedoms of the citizens who publicly announced their legal assembly.

The Organizing Committee states that despite this ban of the Pride March, Serbian public has been given a clear answer to the question of equality in our society. This epilogue presents an obligation for all governmental and non-governmental structures, media, LGBT community, and above all, the Public Prosecutors and Judicial corps of Republic of Serbia, to form a strong platform of fight for attainment of LGBT human rights, which were taken away by this ban. The government must immediately and energetically prosecute persons and organizations which committed the criminal acts of calling for a lynch of an entire part of the Serbian population.

Now it is on the representatives of the Government of the Republic of Serbia to fulfil the promise given by the Prime Minister Cvetkovi? who said that, starting with Monday, September 21st, a strong communication with the LGBT organizations will be established. He also promised that a more positive atmosphere in the society will be created and all relevant security prerequisites will be fulfilled to ensure that the Pride March can be held at the same location where it is being held in the rest of the world – in the centre of the capital.

The State failed the fundamental test, the next exam period is approaching fast. The Republic of Serbia has capitulated, we have not.

Belgrade Pride 2009 Organizing Committee

More Informations : http://eng.belgradepride.rs/

budapestpride2009
On the occasion of the 2009 Budapest Pride Festival, the embassies of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States express their support for, and solidarity with, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in Hungary. The embassies support the right of these communities to use this traditional occasion to march together peacefully and lawfully, in order to express their desire to end the silence surrounding the specific issues that affect them.

Human rights — including justice, equality, humanity, respect and freedom of expression — and the rule of law are the foundations upon which democratic states are built. Indeed, international human rights law is grounded on the premise that all individuals are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is this respect for fundamental human values that obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and to ensure that all people enjoy equal opportunities.

Today, many individuals face discrimination, both systemic and overt, based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Our governments seek to combat such discrimination by promoting the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge all governments to ensure that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity form the basis for criminal penalties.

Our governments` policies in this area are in accordance with the principles set out in the Joint statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December, 2008.

Link to the Budapest Pride website: http://www.budapestpride.hu/en

Budapest Pride March 2008:

Povorka_ponosa_09_20Belgrade Pride invites lesbians, gays, bisexuals, asexuals, intersexuals, trans and queer folk, their friends, families and all those who wish to build society free of fear, violence and discrimination – to join us in Pride parade!
On September 20th 2009 together we will write new history of our town; it will be the day when Serbia makes a big brave step forward in struggle for equality and freedom of all its citizens.
Let’s go out to the streets together and create a free space where regardless of our differences there will be respect and solidarity, where we will promote tolerance and understanding!

Its our basic human right to freely use public spaces – so let’s use it!

We will gather on September 20th in all our diversity to show that there are many ways that people love one another.

belgradeprideBelgrade Pride poziva lezbejke, gejeve, biseksualne , interseksualne, aseksualne, trans i queer osobe, njihove prijateljice i prijatelje, porodice i sve one koji žele da zajedno gradimo društvo slobodno od straha, nasilja i diskriminacije, da nam se pridruže u Povorci ponosa!

BELGRADE — Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said that the police will uphold public order and safety during the gay pride parade, expected to take place on September 20.

“In this country, no one is allowed to threaten or bother anyone,” Dacic said, adding that the event will be laden with safety risks and that police will do everything they can to ensure order and safety.

The Pride Parade 2009 organizational committee said it supported the minister’s statement, as the first clear public comment giving a guarantee that police will do everything to secure the event.

Dacic said that while signing the protocol on Tuesday on a donation from the city assembly to Belgrade police, that the joint goal of police and the city is to make Belgrade a place where personal and property security are guaranteed for all citizens, “and where police are always ready to help in emergency situations”.

Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas said that city workers have started painting over graffiti that express threats to participants in the parade, “because it is necessary for everyone to feel safe”.

He said that there are small groups that are hiding behind football supporter groups, and who use any kind of public gathering as a chance to cause riots.

Several weeks ago, the graffiti that appeared all over Belgrade threatened gay and lesbian population and those who plan on participating in the parade.

“The organizational committee informed the Interior Ministry of a study done by Zoran Dragisic of the Security University and his colleagues with an analysis of the situation and recommendations for organizing the Pride Parade,” a member of the committee, Milica Djordjevic, told B92, and added that the analysis was presented to top MUP officials.

MUP officials are prepared to coordinate with the organizational committee to make sure that everything will go safely on September 20.

“Our police and its administration have experience and have already demonstrated to the citizens that they can protect them when necessary,” Djordjevic said.

The organizers hope that the city will be interest in cooperation with the parade just as much as the police, human and minority rights ministry, ombudsman, and non-governmental organizations are interested.

The organizational committee asked to meet with Mayor Djilas two weeks ago, but has not heard from his office yet.

Links of the Belgrade LGBT Pride:

http://eng.belgradepride.rs/

http://www.belgradepride.rs/

http://www.queerbeograd.org/

Slavic Pride: Thank you Mayor Luzhkov by Peter Tatchell© Reuters – Denis Sinyakov

Thank you Mayor Luzhkov

Moscow’s mayor tried to crush the city’s gay pride parade. In so doing, he did the cause of gay rights in Russia a huge service.

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

The Guardian – Comment is Free – London – 19 May 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/19/russia-gay-pride-luzhkov

Russian gay rights campaigners are toasting Moscow’s homophobic mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, after he ordered the banning and violent suppression of last Saturday’s Slavic gay pride parade in the Russian capital – just hours before the Eurovision song contest was staged in the city.

“Luzhkov has done more than anyone to publicise gay rights in Russia,” beamed Nikolai Alekseev, the gay parade organiser, as we chatted on Sunday afternoon following his release from nearly 24 hours of police detention:

By stopping the gay parade he has provoked massive media coverage of our fight against homophobia. The Russian media has been full of reports about gay issues for the last week. This has hugely increased public awareness and understanding of gay people.

Slowly, we are eroding homophobic attitudes. Through this media visibility, we are helping to normalise queer existence. After our successive gay protests in Moscow since 2006, people are less shocked about homosexuality. We have a long way to go, but gradually we are winning hearts and minds, especially among younger Russians.

We ought to give Luzhkov an award. His violation of our right to protest has given us a remarkable platform, with day-after-day of publicity about lesbian gay human rights. It is the equivalent of about 200m roubles (£4m pounds) in free advertising.

After spending five days in Moscow, helping prepare for the parade and then participating in the brutally curtailed protest, I am awestruck by the masterful strategy and tactics of the organisers.

They had previously tried writing letters and seeking meetings with the Russian government in a bid to get action against the homophobic discrimination, harassment and violence that is widespread in Russian society. Every approach has been rebuffed. Both the federal and city authorities have refused to meet representatives of Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. They will not introduce laws to tackle anti-gay violence and to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Faced with this intransigent refusal to engage in dialogue or legislate, what are Russian queers to do? Stay silent? Do nothing?

The gay parade organisers realise that the conferences, glossy reports and low-key vigils of other Russian and international gay organisations have little or no impact on the government – or on public consciousness.

It is only visible and challenging actions, like the gay parades, that put queer issues on the public and political agenda.

The same has been true all throughout history. It has been direct action by radical campaigners like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King that has most dramatically and effectively overturned injustice.

By adapting their tactics, the Slavic Pride coordinators ran rings around the Russian and Moscow authorities and put them on the defensive.

“Luzhkov walked into our trap. We offered to meet him last week to work out an amicable solution. He refused. His refusal and the subsequent police repression of the parade gave us masses of publicity and made him look aggressive and tyrannical,” said Alekseev.

As well as being full of admiration for the organisers’ tactical savvy, I was also immensely impressed by their ingenuity in outwitting the Moscow police and the Federal Security Service (the successor to the Soviet-era secret police, the KGB).

Moscow’s gay parade was planned like a military operation and executed with more than a whiff of James Bond-style daring and evasion. The authorities were determined to stop the protest before it happened. They put activists under surveillance and planned to pre-emptively arrest Alekseev. To prevent this, he went into hiding a few days before, moving from house to house, switching cars and trains and changing mobile phones.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Moscow+Police+Spying+On+Gay+Groups-a01611814149

Over 60 gay activists joined the parade, with others acting as logistical support, arranging transport, accommodation, food and security. They came from far-flung regions of Russia, plus a 15-strong delegation from Belarus. Most were in their early 20s. There were a few older veterans from the underground Russian gay rights movement in the 1980s, including a member of the Academy of Sciences and a nuclear physicist. Their bravery and fearlessness was totally inspiring. All of them were ready to risk being arrested, beaten, jailed, sacked from their jobs and evicted from their apartments.

On the day of the parade, we converged on the protest location – the gardens in front of Moscow State University. To fool the riot police, we arrived in limousines, disguised as a wedding party, complete with bride and groom (Alekseev).

There were three successive protests, one after the other. First, the Belarusians kicked off with chants against homophobia, which is when I was arrested for holding a placard with “gay rights” written on it in Russian and English. After we were dragged off, another group unfurled a 25-foot banner: “Gay Equality. No compromise.” Then, finally, Alekseev and his “bride” were bundled into a police van. Several people were arrested for simply speaking to the media. Nearly all those detained – including myself – report being arrested with excessive force.

http://www.gayrussia.ru/en/news/detail.php?ID=13465

All in all, it was a PR disaster for the Russian and Moscow authorities, ensuring that Eurovision 2009 will be forever associated with police brutality, government homophobia and the suppression of a peaceful protest.

It is good to know that Russian gay campaigners are having the last laugh. In March, the then Moscow police chief, Vladmir Pronin, had promised there would no protests at all. No gay demos would be allowed to mar Eurovision. He boasted of “tough measures” and that protesters would be “torn to shreds.” No person would be brave enough to risk the wrath of his riot police, Pronin warned.

https://gayswithoutborders.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/moscow-police-chief-says-gay-pride-is-unacceptable/

He was wrong. There was a gay protest. Gay people had the guts to defy his uniformed thugs. By so doing, they not only defended gay human rights, they defended the right to protest of all Russians, gay and straight.

You can follow Peter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PeterTatchell or join the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Campaign Facebook group at http://tinyurl.com/cj9y6s

Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
www.greenoxford.com/peter and www.petertatchell.net

Gays Without Borders

See Also:

Nikolai Alexeyev Arrested 2007Russian police officers arrest Nikolai Alexeyev in Moscow, 27 May 2007. Russian police arrested Russian gay rights activists and a leading British campaigner Peter Tatchell as they demonstrated outside the Moscow mayor’s office.
(Photo credit:  AFP Photo Maxim Marmur, Getty Images)

Slavic Pride Update From the LGBT Moscow Wires

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov Refuses to Speak to Organisers

Three arrested but organisers vow to march regardless of threats

Moscow – 15 May 2009 by Peter Tatchell

Various senior Russian sources are reporting that Moscow police are today attempting to arrest Nikolai Alekseev and other key Slavic Pride coordinators, and are also attempting to track down and arrest British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in order to prevent Slavic Pride going ahead.

Mr. Alekseev, Mr. Tatchell and others have been transferred to a secure location. In case of arrest, several contingency plans have been prepared so that the Slavic Pride march will not unravel should the police catch the main coordinators, adding to the number of campaigners already arrested.

The Embassies of UK, France, Switzerland, Holland, Germany and the USA have all been notified of the plans and the risk that some of their nationals could be arrested and detained tomorrow and could require consular assistance.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov pointedly refused to speak to organisers or acknowledge the offer of compromise.

However, commenting on the increased number of Russians who are planning to attend this years Pride march, Slavic Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev said

“We are glad to see that this year this event is organised, led and populated by local Russians and Moscowvites. After years of silent oppression, we are finally creating a generation of LGBT activists that are becoming bolder and are ready to step up to demand equal rights.

“The presence and solidarity shown by British human rights activist Peter Tatchell and Chicago LGBT activist Andy Thayer here in Moscow sets a good example for the local people who have braved the violent threats and taunts from Moscow Mayor Luzhkov and police chief Vladmir Pronin.”

Meanwhile, in the run up to Saturday’s march, Peter Tatchell was awarded the International Award of Slavic Pride for his active support of Slavic LGBT campaigns. Mr. Tatchell was selected by a jury that included notable human rights campaigners Sophie Int Veld, Volker Beck, Bertrand Delanoe and Louis Georges Tin.

Vladimir Ivanov, the film director who produced ‘Moscow Pride 06’, a documentary about the violent repression of the 2006 demonstration that was premiered at the Berlin film festival in 2007, was awarded the International Award of Russian Pride. As well as a film director, Mr. Ivanov has been one of the main organisers of Russian LGBT public campaigns over several years.

Additional

Diplomatic sources report that the Moscow Embassies of the people involved in Slavic Pride are concerned about people who are arriving in Moscow to attend the Eurovision celebrations and join the Pride march being beaten or arrested. They are monitoring the situation and, if necessary, it is reported that they are planning to make a joint diplomatic announcement later.

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Subject: Tatchell risks Moscow Gay Pride

Tatchell at Moscow Gay Pride

Undeterred by threat of arrests and bashings

London – 11 May 2009 – By Peter Tatchell

petermoscow

A Russian ultranationalist tries to remove a placard which a veteran of British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell holds during a demonstration in Moscow, 27 May 2007. AFP / Alexander Titorenko

Despite threats to bash and arrest the marchers, British gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will attend this Saturday’s Moscow Gay Pride parade – this year renamed Slavic Gay Pride to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality struggles in all Slavic countries, Russian and non-Russian.

The parade is scheduled to take place at lunchtime on Saturday 16 May, and coincides with the final of the Eurovision song contest which is being held later that night, also in Moscow.

The Moscow authorities have said the parade is banned and have threatened “tough measures” against anyone who tries to march. In addition, there is the likelihood of mob violence against the marchers by neo-Nazis, skinheads, ultra-nationalists and Christian fundamentalists – as happened in 2006 and 2007.

“I am joining the parade to show my support for the courageous Russian gay campaigners. All year round they risk arrest, imprisonment and queer-bashing attacks. These men and women are absolute heroes. I salute them,” said Mr. Tatchell, who is the human rights spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales and the Green Party parliamentary candidate for the university constituency of Oxford East in south-east England.

“International solidarity is hugely important. My presence is one way to show that gay people around the world support the right of gay people in Russia to live their lives without homophobic prejudice, ostracism, discrimination and violence.

“This parade is in defence of human rights. We are defending the often violated human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians. They want legal protection against discrimination and hate crimes. I support their cause.

“Not all Russians are homophobic, but many are. Gay Russians suffer queer-bashing attacks, blackmail, verbal abuse and discrimination in education, housing and employment,. This shames the great Russian nation.

“Saturday’s Slavic Gay Pride is about more than gay human rights. It is about the right of all Russian people to freely express their opinions and to protest peacefully. The ban on gay parades is just one example of the systematic suppression of civil liberties in Russia.

“I appeal to President Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin and Mayor Luzhkov: gay people are no threat to Russian society. Be magnanimous. Uphold democratic rights and freedoms. Allow the Slavic Gay Pride parade.

“Although I am determined to support our Russian and Belarusian comrades, like them I am anxious about what may happen to us. But we have to take some risks; otherwise the homophobes and authoritarians will win.

“I don’t have much confidence that the Moscow police will accept our right to protest or that they will protect us against neo-Nazi violence.

petermoscow2

“At Moscow Pride in 2007 I was beaten almost unconscious by right-wing extremists, while the police stood by and watched. They then arrested me. I spent several hours in police detention before being released without charge. My attackers have never been arrested, even though they were clearly identified in photos and film footage,” said Mr Tatchell.

Peter Tatchell Website

See also:

Moscow Ban of the Gay Parade: Dutch Singer Gordon Threatens to Boycott the Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision singer threatens gay rights boycott

Sent by Nikolaï Alexeyev

Gordon-ToppersPop singer Gordon says he will refuse to take the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest final in Moscow if Russian police violently suppress a gay parade in the city. The singer made the remarks in an interview with Dutch public broadcaster NOS. The organisation GayRussia announced plans for a gay rights parade to coincide with Saturday’s Eurovision final, but it has been banned by the authorities.

A spokesman for Moscow’s mayor said “Moscow has never had gay parades and it never will.” Russian police often use strong-arm tactics to clamp down on gay rights protests. Dutch Eurovision singer Gordon, who is himself homosexual, said “If violence is used during the demonstration, I’ll fly straight back to the Netherlands.”

Gordon is a member of the Toppers, the star singers who will perform this year’s Dutch Eurovision entry. The other two members of the specially assembled threesome of famous Dutch solo artists and TV personalities are Jeroen van der Boom and René Froger. They say they will decide how to respond to events on the day of the final itself.

See also:

SlavicPride09BigUN Human Rights Committee gives Russia 6 months to justify Gay Picket Ban in Moscow

Activists hope for a decision before next year’s Moscow Pride

MOSCOW (GayRussia.Ru) The United Nations Human Rights Committee based in Geneva, Switzerland, gave Russia six months to give its position on a complaint sent by Nikolai Alekseev, Moscow Pride Chief Organizer.

“In accordance with rule 97 of the Committee’s rules of procedure, a copy of the communication has been sent to the State party today, with the request that any information (…) should reach the committee within 6 months” states the letter received from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The case refers to the ban of the picketing in front of the Iranian Embassy in Moscow with the aim to condemn executions of homosexuals and minors in this country and to appeal for the repeal of the death penalty.

“It is the first time that we use this procedure of individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee and we are satisfied to see that it took only one month to the Committee to open the case,” Nikolai Alekseev said tuesday at the Slavic Pride Press Conference in Moscow.

“This procedure is much faster than in the European Court where we already have loads of applications pending for more than two years without result.” he added.

He expressed hope that the UN Human Rights Committee will condemn Russia for the breaches of the rights of gays and lesbians before May 2010 when the fifth Moscow Pride is scheduled.

“This Committee is one of the very few international means we have, to appeal against unlawful decisions of Russian authorities, together with the European Court.”

The picket was supposed to take place on July 19 last year from 1 to 2 p.m. with up to 30 participants. Notification was sent by Moscow Gay Pride organizers to the Prefecture of the Central Administrative area of Moscow in full accordance with the law on 11 July. The same day, deputy prefect Galina Boryatinskaya denied permission for the event.

The reason given for the refusal of permission to stage the picket was in the “interests of public order”.

However, two similar pickets – on July 19 2006 and July 19 2007 – were permitted. It is widely believed that last year’s ban was as a result of the word “homosexual” being included in the application – the word had not been used on applications for the previous two years.

In their complaint against Russia to the UN Human Rights Committee, the organizers claim that by banning their public event Russian authorities breached Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the right to freedom of peaceful assembly to everyone.

The complaint by Russian gay activists was sent on the basis of the procedure enshrined in the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights drafted in 1966.

The Covenant allows individuals to apply to the Committee against the states which breached their rights given by the Pact. Russia recognized the jurisdiction of the UN Human Rights Committee in 1992.

The complaint sent to the UN Human Rights Committee today was the first one concerning the bans of public events of sexual minorities in Russia which was sent to the UN.

Russian activists have appealed so far 170 banned marches to the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg. The first complain was received by the Court in January 2007. To date, the case has still not been assigned.

Pickets in front of Iranian Embassies have been organized around the world to commemorate the two gay Iranian boys who were executed on July 19, 2005.

www.gayrussia.ru

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Russian Gay activists unveil plans for their Slavic Pride on Eurovision

nikolai-alekseev1

Nikolai Alekseev

“Gay Equality, No Compromise”

MOSCOW (GayRussia.Ru) Yesterday (05.05.2009) in Moscow took place the annual press conference of the Moscow Pride movement. For two hours, organizers of the event answered questions of local and foreign journalist about plans for the May 16 Slavic Pride march but also about Gay Rights in Russia.

slavic-pride

Speaking at the press conference where Nikolai Alekseev, chief organizer, Irina Fet, Sergey Androsenko, Maria Arbatova, feminist and writer and Eduard Murzin, former deputy and head of center Tolerance.

Like every year, the press conference showed a massive interest with more than 50 journalists packed in the room.

“Moscow Pride is an incredible platform which allows us to speak and get attention from the public not only about Freedom of Assembly but about gay rights in general in Russia every year” said Nikolai Alekseev in introduction.

“There has not been any more powerful initiative to put gay rights in the society in the history of the Russian LGBT movement” he added.

2009 sees the fourth attempt to host a March for the Rights of Sexual Minorities in Moscow. This year, the event which is to be held together with Belarusian activists has been re-branded as the “Slavic Pride”. It is also expected to take place next year in Minsk, Belarus, for the first time.

slavicpride1Nikolai Alekseev further explained that this year’s march on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest Final is planed on purpose:

“There will never be a better time to raise the question in this country” said Nikolai Alekseev.

“If Medvedev and Luzhkov position Russia as a European country and invite Eurovision, the question of [gay] rights should proceed in a European way.”

“It does not make sense that Russia would accept to watch gay singers performing on the stage, and ban gay activists from marching.”

Organizers applied for 4 public actions to take place in Moscow on May 16th giving a wide range of variants to the authorities to allow at least one of events.

A march was applied at the City Hall, and 2 pickets were applied at the Central Prefecture.

In addition, they asked the President for permission to hold a march in the garden adjacent to the walls of Kremlin.

Leonid Krutakov, a spokesperson for the City Hall said last week that “all attempts to hold such events will be firmly stopped by the authorities”.

However, speaking to AP last night, Mr Krutakov seemed to have softened his position explaining that the decision will be taken only by the Mayor of Moscow.

Activists told journalists that their action would take place irrespective of the decision of the authorities. Right to peaceful marches and Freedom of Assembly is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights.

Several cases are pending at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the 2006, 2007 and 2008 banned Moscow Pride but the Court is not expected to take any decision before another 3 to 4 years.

In March, the organizers appealed to the Spanish Presidency of the Council of Europe to remind Russia of its obligations towards Freedom of Assembly for all.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is known for its opposition to permit gays marching in his city. In January 2007, he qualified gay prides as “satanic gatherings”.

Officially, President Medvedev has never expressed a position on gay rights. Last year, his services denied answering a similar application to hold a march next to the Kremlin. A case was recently filed with the ECHR.

“President Medvedev’s position on gay rights is a well kept secret behind Kremlin’s wall. At the State level, we only know the relatively neutral position of former President Putin after he answered a question from journalists in 2007” said Nikolai Alekseev.

Asked about possible trouble with the police and protesters, Nikolai Alekseev answered:

“Several Embassies are concerned about the safety of their nationals who will travel to Moscow to attend both our actions and the Eurovsion. I know that these concerned have been raised officially with the government.”

Speaking about the actions planed around the Slavic Pride, the organizers explained that they will associate gays and lesbians from all Russia.

A series of talk shows will be broadcasted from May 13 to May 17 on Gay-Radio.Ru, the first Web Gay radio in Russia and a partner of the Slavic Pride. Freedom of Assembly, Family Rights, and the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia are among the issues to be discussed.

irina-fet

Irina Fet

“Broadcasting our events through the web will make them accessible to those who are far away from Moscow and who cannot travel or who are just not ready to take part in a public action.” explained Ira Fet.

Ms Fet also told journalists that she will apply together with her girlfriend for a marriage on May 12 in Moscow.

Nikolai Alekseev explained that if the Moscow authorities deny registering the marriage, the couple will wed in Canada and seek recognition of their union in Russia.

“Everything is ready, and we are both very excited” said Ms Fet.

The Slavic Pride Festival also welcomes this year foreign activists like Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell and Andy Thayer from Gay Liberation Network in Chicago.

Tatchell and Thayer will speak “Live from Moscow after the Slavic Pride” on Saturday 17 giving a summary to the international community before the Eurovision ceremony. The program will be accessible online via Gay-Radio.Ru

“More than ever, this year we want to celebrate gay activism and courage. Our determination to fight for our rights is unchanged since we started in 2005” said Nikolai Alekseev.

This year’s Moscow Pride slogan “Gay Equality, No Compromise” is also the name of a new campaign launched by the organizers. The fight for same sex marriage in Russia is the first initiative of this campaign.

Activists will also remit the award of the “Rainbow Hero of the Russian Gay movement” which will celebrate the most courageous activist selected by a Russian panel.

maria-arbatova

Maria Arbatova

sergey-androsenko

Sergey Androsenko

eduard-murzin

Eduard Murzin