Archive for the ‘Moscow Gay Pride’ Category

“This is our caricature for GayRussia.Ru on Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov who called this week to punish gays and gay parades: “It’s high time that we stop propagating nonsense discussions about human rights, and bring to bear on them the full force and justice of the law”. He knows he will loose… agony…”Nicolas Alexeyev

Mayor Luzhkov Has Again Hits Out at Gay Pride Parade in Moscow, Calling it Satanic

Organisers vow to go ahead and will return to the streets of the capital on May 29

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has fiered his customary broadside at the Russian Capital’s annual Gay Pride, repeating his usage of such descriptions as “satanic”.

Speaking at the opening of the XVIII Christmas Educational Readings in Moscow, Mayor Luzhkov, said that for several years there had been unprecedented pressure to hold a Gay Pride Parade.

“[The parade] cannot be called anything but a Satanic act, the Mayor said. “We have prevented such a parade and we will not allow it in the future. Everyone needs to accept this as an axiom.

“It is high time to crack down on the parade with all the power and justice of the law, instead of talking about human rights.

“We need a social whip or something like that, not a liberal ginger cake,” the Mayor said in a speech that closely resembled his remarks about Gay Pride a year ago to Christmas Educational Readings.

He coupled what he called the “open propaganda of same-sex so-called love”, with such “social ills” as drug abuse, xenophobia and ethnic hostility.

“There was nothing in Luzhkov’s speech that we haven’t heard before,” Moscow Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev said this afternoon.

“All the same medieval and homophobic rhetoric, under the obscurantist sauce.”

According to Mr. Alexeyev, the approaching inevitability of gay pride in Moscow is not a theorem and an axiom.

“Our axiom is much stronger than Luzhkov’s because ours is based on the law and the European Convention on Human Rights,” he pointed out.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg will, in the next month, be considering the cases against Russia of the banning by Mayor Luzhkov of Moscow Gay Prides 2006, 2007 and 2008, along with other bans affecting the capital’s gay community.

Mr. Alexeyev pointed out that the Strasbourg Court has given Russia until February 20, to justify its position on the bans.

And he added that when he was in London in 2007 attending an “M4” meeting with the mayors of Berlin, London and Paris, Mayor Luzhkov promised to respect the decision of the court.

There are some doubts that the decision of the European court of Human Rights will be announced in time to put Luzhkov to the test following his 2007 promise for this coming May’s Moscow Pride.

Mr. Alexeyev confirmed that as far as organisers are concerned, Moscow Pride will go ahead as planned on May 29. He added that a number of well-known politicians and activists from Europe and the USA had already indicated that they will be present.

Full Article on GayRussia

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We wanted to thank the 50 people who made a protest in Berlin at the Russian Embassy today. Also, to the activists of Tapages who in Strasbourg organized a die-in at the Russian Consulate in the afternoon.
We also want to thank German MP Volker beck who managed from Germany to ask his Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make a diplomatic action in Moscow early sunday morning with the names of the organizers still detained.
We are extremely disspointed that the EU Embassies (UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland) which had been invited by the organizers to monitor the events on the spot, concluded that despite witnessing the action, they did not find any ground to make a diplomatic actions. It shows that it is easier to act for the EU Embassies in smaller countries such as Latvia where several EU Embassies brought support but when it turns to be in Russia, things are different.
We will raise this point with the EU Commission shortly as well as the denial by the Belarusian Embassy to grant any assistance to the Belarusian activists on the motives that they were taking part in the Slavic gay pride.
The UK representative gave consular assistance to Peter Tatchell very fast after he was arrested while the US Embassy did not go to meet Andy Thayer and was actually not planing to do it before monday morning.
Most of all, we want to thank all the medias and journalists who made the 4th Moscow Pride moe covered than its first violent edition in 2006. If the participants of the Eurovision clearly put the human rights in their pockets after they landed in Moscow, the journalist mentioned our struggle in all the articles about the Eurovision.
A bit disapointed by the Dutch Gay Contestant, Gordon, who told us that he will be in the pride and who said at a press conference on thursday that he finaly decided not to take part in the pride because the organizers told him not to join. This is actually a lie as we have never be in direct contact with him. We are a bit disapointed to see that this singer used the Slavic pride for his own PR.
Lastly, we welcome the statement from the Slovenian Presidency of the CoE which was released last night which at least once, his expressing a clear and strong message. It seems that the pressure we put on this institution over the last months started to work.
See you next year in Minsk for the second edition of the Slavic Gay Pride (middle of May, date to be confirmed) in Belarus and in Moscow on May 29th 2010 for the 5th Moscow Pride.
Nikolai Alekseev
Nikolai Baev
Ira Fet
Vlad Ortanov

Slovenia Expresses Concern Over Moscow Gay Pride Parade

LJUBLJANA, May 17, 2009 – Samuel Žbogar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia and chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, last night expressed his concern about the action taken against the organisers of the Slavic Gay Pride parade in Moscow.
“People belonging to sexual minorities enjoy the same right to freedom of expression and to freedom of assembly as any other individual within the jurisdiction of a member state of the Council of Europe,” a statement issued by the Foreign Affairs Department in Ljubljana.

“According to the established case law of the European Court of Human Rights, peaceful demonstrations cannot be banned simply because of the existence of attitudes hostile to the demonstrators or to the causes they advocate.

“The fact that this is not the first year such a situation has developed is of concern to the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe,” the statement concluded.

Russia is a member country of the Council of Europe. There are currently some 150 cases pending in the European Court of Human Rights against Russia over gay rights issues.

Gay Russia

Photo of the Action in Strasbourg – TaPaGes Strasbourg

2009-05-17_moscou_04

TaPaGes Strasbourg

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Threats Mount Against Gay Pride in Moscow

By Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network

02._moskovskij_komsololetsMoskovskij Komsololets article about first equal marriage action in Russia © Gay Liberation Network

Original Article on Chicago Indymedia by Andy Thayer

Moscow – 15th May
One Day Before Slavic Pride

A front page headline in Moskovskij Komsololets, one of Moscow’s major dailies, on Wednesday read “Lesbians Came to Marriage Registration Bureau Before Gay Pride,” with a sub-headline of “In Moscow, rise in publicity about gay pride.”

A few pages inside, another article countered with a headline of “Homosexualism ‘Weakens Power of Fist’: Activists Against Gay Pride Threaten Violence.”

The second article told of a press conference by fascists in which they promised that 1000 of them will protest against gay pride this Saturday and would physically attack it if possible. In previous years they violently attacked gay pride participants, sending German European Parliament member Volkhart Beck to the hospital in 2006, doing the same to veteran British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in 2007. This year the Pride event has been banned once again, with the Moscow police chief threatening to arrest all of the participants.

On Thursday a reporter for Moskovskij Komsololets told gay organizers that police had told them that they would arrest lead Moscow organizer Nikolai Alekyeev today, attempting to decapitate the leadership of our “Slavic Pride” action on Saturday.

03._nikolai_alekseev_l_confers_with_other_activistsNikolai Alekseev confers with fellow activists © Gay Liberation Network

Fortunately, Alexyeev and his colleagues anticipated the government’s action, and the last place you will find him and any of the other key organizers is at their flats or workplaces. All likely means of tracing their locations have been disabled, thus far forestalling pre-emptive government repression against tomorrow’s Slavic Pride action. “Security culture” has been carefully and calmly organized, with all of us sequestered at a safe location while we hold a two-day conference and training session for tomorrow’s pride action amidst the high-profile “Eurovision” song contest.

04._going_to_the_conferenceWalking to the conference © Gay Liberation Network

05._strategy_session1Strategy session © Gay Liberation Network

The first day of the conference featured political discussions about Slavic Pride — why we are doing the action and how it came to be. Several speakers noted that in each country there is a basic political division among gay organizers between those who see the need to take action against the political repression of gay rights organizing, versus those who say that it is enough to simply allow “gay culture” – clubs, coffee houses and the like — to proliferate, and that this alone would be sufficient change. “The gay movement in Belorussia is also separated into separate blocs, some [who] are in favor of action, others [who] are not,” said Belorussia leader Sergey Androsenko.

06._belosrussian_activists_practice2Belorussian activists practice for Saturday’s action © Gay Liberation Network

In the United States, this same debate is mirrored between those who say that we need to organize actions against things like Proposition 08 and proactively organize sit-ins and the like, versus those who say that gay marriage is “inevitable,” with the implication being that all we have to do is wait, or passively support politicians who will bring the change for us.

“You can’t change the community by closed situations, only [the] open fight for your rights can change [the] situation in society,” said Alekseev. “If you aren’t open, your relatives, the media doesn’t know, they need live examples.” Tatchell, noting the enormous progress that LGBT people in Britain have made over the past few decades, explained that how they got there was by “Doing many direct action protests and like Slavic pride, getting lots of publicity which raised public awareness, provoked public debate and put pressure on the authorities. So the tactics that you are using here today in Moscow are similar to the ones we used successfully in Britain — direct action and public protest get results.”

Those in the “change is evitable ” camp fail to understand that history does not always move forward, unerring moving towards greater rights. In my greetings to the conference from Chicago’s Gay Liberation Network, I noted that the economic crisis gripping the world poses additional challenges for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) rights organizers. Far right organizers, such as those we likely will encounter tomorrow, are dangerous enough during “normal” times. When large numbers of people are losing their jobs and savings, history has shown that fascist organizers can gain many more adherents and greatly increase the threats they pose to sexual, national and religious minorities. Organizing bold pro-equality counter-messages becomes that much more important.

Doing so amidst state repression and limited openings for democratic organizing of any kind is a real trick. “We want to minimize the negative consequences” to the Pride participants, said Alekseev. Today’s part of the conference will be aimed at carefully organizing and training ourselves for tomorrow’s action so that we get “maximum exposure of mass media and=2 0minimum consequences to the participants.”

Some of that was already achieved by the action of two lesbians at the Moscow equivalent of a marriage license bureau. While a press conference by the fascists the same day was relatively downplayed, the marriage license bureau action, “the first attempt at homosexual marriage in Russia” had “about 40 [still] cameras and 30 TV cameras,” said Alekseev.

Moscow organizers noted that the numbers of fascist counter-protesters have diminished at each of the previous three Pride events in the city, with 1000 violently attacking the event in 2006, two hundred attacking in 2007, and only about 50 counter-protesting last year. What effect the economic crisis and the government’s heightened belligerence will have on tomorrow’s Pride event is anyone’s guess.

Regardless, veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell in his greetings on behalf of Britain’s OutRage! direct action group, aptly saluted the bravery of tomorrow’s Pride participants, most of who appear to be in their early 20s. “We had police harassment [in Britain], but nothing on the scale that you have experienced here and in Belorussia. And so all my comrades in OutRage! want to say to you, we send you our solidarity, we salute your courage, and we together are part of a world movement that will win queer freedom.”

Already some progress has been made. Gay rights organizing in Russia did not begin with the Moscow 2006 Pride action. In 1986, Vladmir Ortanov founded Russia’s first gay newspaper and in 1991 Russia saw its first Pride festival in St. Petersbu rg, even though homosexuality was still illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison. Even though young people are the overwhelming majority at today’s conference, veterans like Ortanov shared their history so that the younger activists could see how tomorrow’s action fits into the larger picture of struggle for gay rights and democracy in Russia.

07._vladmir_ortanovVeteran Russian gay activist Vladmir Ortanov © Gay Liberation Network

“We are on an historical mission, it is a huge responsibility,” said Alekseev. “The evolution of LGBT rights in Russia will depend on what happens on 16 May.”

Despite threats of arrest and physical attacks by fascists, Slavic Gay Pride will take place at 1 PM tomorrow (Saturday) at a soon-to-be-disclosed location in downtown Moscow.

The eyes of much of the world’s media are already on Moscow covering the finals of the Eurovision Festival. President Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin and Mayor Luzhkov will have the choice of either confirming the world’s worst suspicions about Russian “democracy” by arresting the participants, or they can step away from that abyss by allowing LGBT people to assemble without state repression.

PHOTO CAPTIONS

This article and the photos referenced below are in the public domain. However, please credit them to Andy Thayer / Gay Liberation Network
Photos are available at the following URL:
More photos and the first story in this series can be found at:

Update by Nikolai Alekseev

Like in the previous years, GayRussia twins with UKGayNews.Org.Uk
Live coverage can be followed at the following page :
Info will be updated as available during the day.
www.gayrussia.ru/en will not be updated in English today.
Photos will most likely first appear from Reuters, AP and AFP at Yahoo!
Tonight, if possible before the Eurovision Song Contest, Peter Tatchell and Andy Thayer will broadcast a program on www.gay-radio.ru over the internet, in English, to give their impression of the event and explain how it was. Exact time and link to access the program will be sent on these lists in the afternoon.

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Gay Pride in Moscow: Report from a Chicago Activist

Gay Pride in Moscow:
Report from a Chicago Activist

By Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network

01._andy_thayer_in_red_square-1Andy Thayer of Chicago’s Gay Liberation Network on Red Square in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral, midnight, upon arrival in Moscow, May 13th © Gay Liberation Network

“I [only] made the conclusion [to come to Gay Pride in Moscow] on the 12th of May because I was really very frightened about myself and my friends. I know that there is some information that Pride is going to be canceled, and more than this, that Pride participants are going to be beaten.”

And why did you decide to come anyway?

“Because this is my fight really. If I don’t go to the pride parade, who will go there? My reasons to come was to support my friends and of course to support gay rights.”

Sergio Yenin, 19-year-old gay activist from Minsk, Belorussia

Thursday, May 14

MOSCOW — After 14 hours of flights, last night I found myself in Eastern Europe for the first time in my life, warmly greeted by lesbian and gay activists who, despite state repression, are organizing their fourth annual pride event in this city. This year’s event is dubbed “Slavic Pride,” denoting the significant participation of activists from around the region.

The previous three years’ events have gone forward despite bans from the authorities and violence from neo-fascists in Russian orthodox and skinhead garb. This year the authorities not only banned the Pride event, but for good measure, approved the anti-gays’ application to hold their own event this past Tuesday.

That same day, our Moscow friends countered with their own unsanctioned action at the Department of Registration of Acts of Civil Status — an attempt by two lesbian activists to get a marriage license. Leading Slavic Pride activist Nikolai Alekseev said the action was inspired in part by a February civil disobedience action at a marriage license bureau in Chicago. The Moscow action received widespread international press coverage, including from the New York Times.

As I shadowed Alekseev around the city last night, press coverage if anything seemed to build, with Nikolai’s two cell phones ringing incessantly and meetings with Finish and Slovenian journalists held near midnight just outside of Red Square.

02._nikolai_alekseev_with_slovenian_journalist-1Nikolai Alexseev, chief organizer of Slavic Pride, being interviewed by a Slovenian journalist just outside a Eurovision reception being held near Red Square © Gay Liberation Network

Slavic Pride is slated for this Saturday, amidst the big “Eurovision Fest” being hosted this year by Moscow. For those not familiar with what Eurovision is, think “American Idol” times ten, with a profusion of media coverage and street banners that puts Chicago’s 2016 Olympics bid hype to shame. While our specific plans for Saturday are necessarily secret at this time, the aim is to cause maximum embarrassment to the government if they attempt to arrest us or allow the neo-fascists to attack.

In response to Moscow activists’ application for a permit this year, police chief Vladmir Pronin told the Russian news agency Interfax that gay pride parades in the capital are “unacceptable – gay pride parades s houldn’t be allowed.”

“No one will dare to do it, such ‘brave-heart’ will be torn to shreds,” he added. “The West can say we’re bad guys, but our people will see it is right. Our country is patriarchal, that’s [sic] sums it up… I positively agree with the Church, with the Patriarch, politicians, especially with [Mayor] Luzhkov, who are convinced that man and woman should love each other. It is established by God and nature.”

However, Moscow Pride organizers have vowed to move forward with this year’s Pride event despite the police chief’s threats.

“Mr. Pronin already showed his incompetency last year when his services were unable to prevent us unveiling a banner directed against the Mayor, right opposite his office,” said Alekseev. The main pride even t successfully took place nearby at the monument to the famous Russian gay composer, Peter Tchkaivosky, while the authorities and neo-fascists were hoodwinked into thinking that it would take place outside of homophobic Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s office.

Today at the start of a gay rights conference at an undisclosed location east of the city, I was joined by British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and LGBT activists from around Russia and Belorussia – Minsk, Rostof, Sochi, Ufa, St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Ekaterinbourg, Volgodonsk, Ryazan and of course Moscow.

03._peter_tatchell-1Peter Tatchell, Britain’s foremost LGBT rights campaigner, on the coach to today’s Slavic Pride conference © Gay Liberation Network

04._on_the_coach_to_slavic_pride_conference-1Nikolai Alexeyev, Irina Fet, on the bus to Slavic Pride © Gay Liberation Network

05._irina_fey_lesbian_bride-to-beIrina Fet, one of the two lesbians who attempted to get married in Moscow on Tuesday © Gay Liberation Network

As we gathered on a coach to go to the conference, Moscow activist Nikolai Baev explained how a group of young activists from Ryazan, about 200 miles south of the capital, got involved in organizing this year’s Slavic Pride:

“There is a very discriminatory law in the Ryazan region which proh ibits so-called propaganda about homosexuality and among minors. The law passed in 2006 and we had pickets that said that homosexuality is absolutely normal and we are proud of our situation. We picketed in front of schools in Ryazan and we were detained because it was illegal.”

06._peter_tatchell_left_with_nikolai_baev_moscow_gay_rights_campaigner_rightPeter Tatchell (left) with Nikolai Baev (right) of Moscow © Gay Liberation Network

Two people were found guilty and fined 1500 rubles (about $45 US) each. Alekseev came to Ryazan to help in the campaign and in the appeal of their cases to the Constitutional Court of Russia.

Sergio Yenin, 19, explained how he became involved in gay rights organizing in Belorussia:

“I felt myself to be gay from my early childhood. Last year I came to Minsk and there I got acquainted with some gay activists and I thought it would be great if I fought for my gay rights. There are a lot of people who don’t fight for their rights, who don’t participate in such activist movements, and they just consume our achievements. For example, we fought for our gay club, our one gay club in Minsk. It was in danger of being closed [by the government], but it still exists due to us.”

07._sergio_yenin_belorussian_gay_rights_activistSergio Yenin, 19-year-old gay activist from Minsk, Belorussia © Gay Liberation Network

I asked Sergio if he had participated in Minsk Pride events before.

“Yes, of course. The most outstanding Pride parade took place in 2001. But I didn’t participate because I was only 11 then. There were over 300 people participating in this event and 300 watching. This was fabulous. This was an historical moment in Belorussia.”

“The last one took place in October of 2008. It was named Queer Walk and it took place on the 11th of October 2008, the international day of coming out, and we organized a pride parade. It was a rather private, intimate event, there were fifty participants because we cannot organize such a public event because of our government. If we applied for an event, we would be denied.”

“There is an action that takes place [each year] called Chernobyl Way, and all of the opposition parties take place there, and our LGBT group participated last year and this year. Last year we raised the rainbow flag and there were a lot of bad comments about it, there were a lot of threats [of violence]. There were such political parties as Right Alliance, and they threaten us all of the time. This year we didn’t raise our rainbow flag because the organizer of the Belorussian National Front, the main opposition party, they coordinated a call to us, do not raise your rainbow flag, not because we have anything against you, because our fight for clean air, free of radiation will turn into a fight for gay rights.”

08._peter_tatchell_left_with_sergio_yenin_rightPeter Tatchell with Sergio Yenin © Gay Liberation Network

I asked Sergio why he personally joined the 15 others for the ten hour train ride from Belorussia to join this Saturday’s Slavic Pride:

“I [only] made the conclusion [to come] on the 12th of May because I was really very frightened about myself and my friends. I know that there is some information that Pride is going to be canceled, and more than this, that Pride participants are going to be beaten.”

And why did you decide to come anyway?

“Because this is my fight really. If I don’t go to the pride parade, who will go there?&nb sp; My reasons to come was to support my friends and of course to support gay rights.”

(Please note that all photos are free of copywrite, but please credit Gay Liberation Network, www.GayLiberation.net)

This article and accompanying photos are free of copywrite, but please credit the author. Medium resolution photos can be immediately downloaded from the following URL:
http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/86605/index.php

Higher resolution photos are available upon request:

Send an email to LGBTliberation@aol.com with the subject line, “Send Slavic Pride Photos”

Andy Thayer

See Also:

Moscow_Pride_2007_Anti-Gay_Demo

Moscow Pride 2007 Anti-Gay Demo

Slavic Pride: We Don’t Want Moscow to Become Sodom Said Nikolai Dovydenko, Leader of the United Orthodox Youth
Gay visitors to Moscow told to expect violence

By Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk • May 13, 2009

Gay activists and Eurovision fans have been warned they may be met with violence this weekend in Moscow.

The city is preparing to host the Eurovision Song Contest final but gay rights activists have said they will be holding a Slavic Pride march, despite city officials banning such events.

Such events have been met with violence from right-wing extremists in previous years.

“We won’t allow this satanic gathering,” Nikolai Dovydenko, the organiser of last week’s anti-gay picket and leader of the United Orthodox Youth, told the Guardian. “We don’t want Moscow to become Sodom. It’s an affront to Russian society and to our spiritual peace.”

When asked if his movement was intending to hurt gay and lesbian Eurovision fans, he said: “We don’t want to hurt anybody physically. But we will not let our feelings be insulted.” The group’s leaflet mixes images from previous gay parades with photos of terrorist attacks.

“Eighty per cent of Russians are orthodox Christians,” Dovydenko said. “We don’t intend to be humiliated.”

Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who previously described gays as “Satanic”, has done little to quell tension, declaring that no gay prides would ever be held in the city, despite its obligations under its constitution.

Nikolai Alekseev, the organiser of the Slavic Pride rally, warned that British gays and lesbians travelling to city would not be safe from extremist violence, adding that Moscow police would not protect them.

This week, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office revised its guidance for travellers to Moscow, saying that gay visitors should be aware of possible violence and should be careful about open displays of affection.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was among those who were beaten by rightwing extremists during an attempt to hold a march in 2007.

He said yesterday he would still attend the march to show solidarity with Russian campaigners, despite being beaten almost unconscious and then arrested.

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Russian Lesbian Couple, Irina Fedotova and Irina Shipitko, Denied Marriage License

IrinaFedotova-Irina -Shipitko

The attempt to marry went incredibly well and drew a large crowd of journalist, even more than for the Pride Issue. LGBT journalists can use the photo on the below link with copyright “GayRussia.Ru“. More photos will come on GayRussia.Ru. The couple will wed in Toronto, Canada in June. The denial received today will be appealed in Russian court up to Strasbourg.
http://www.gayrussia.ru/events/detail.php?ID=13432

Nikolai Alexeyev

Russian lesbian couple denied marriage license

By Mansur Mirovalev – 12 May 2009

MOSCOW (AP) — Supporters considered it a historic moment: two radiant women applied for a marriage license in a Moscow government office, claiming to be the first same-sex female couple to try to marry in Russia.

But a flustered-looking official denied their application Tuesday, a move that gay rights activists say symbolizes the refusal of many Russian officials to recognize the rights of the country’s gay and lesbian communities. Registry office director Svetlana Potamoshneva, seemingly embarrassed, handed them a written rejection and said Russian law recognizes only marriages between a man and a woman.
Irina Fedotova and Irina Shipitko said they would not give up.

“We won’t stop in midstream,” Fedotova told journalists later, saying she and her partner plan to get married in Canada. She said Russia recognizes marriages registered abroad, thus allowing the couple to formalize their relationship.

The event was the first of two this week that will put the issue of gay rights — which many Russians regard as controversial — on the public stage in Moscow.

Fedotova and Shepitko sought to marry ahead of a gay pride parade Saturday, scheduled to coincide with the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. Gay rights activists hope the media covering the event also will focus on their cause.

Radio Netherlands reported Monday that the Dutch singer Gordon would boycott the contest if parade is broken up violently.

Moscow authorities have banned the march, and religious and nationalist groups said Tuesday they have asked for permission to hold a counter-demonstration in central Moscow.

“The gay parade is … an act of spiritual terrorism,” said Mikhail Nalimov, chairman of the Union of Orthodox Christian Youth.

His deputy, Dmitry Terekhov, said the parade was in part aimed at converting people to homosexuality. “This must be stopped by radical methods, but without violence naturally,” he said.

In some countries, gays have won increasing acceptance — including the right to marry — but in many nations of the former Communist bloc homophobia remains rampant.
Decades of official persecution of Russian gays ended in 1993 with the decriminalization of homosexuality, but opposition to gay rights remains widespread. Russian spiritual leaders have claimed that homosexuality threatens the country’s traditional values.

There are no official estimates of how many gays and lesbians live in Russia, and only a few big cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg have gay nightclubs and gyms.

Russian gay rights movement leader Nikolai Alexeyev said several gay male couples have attempted to wed since the mid-1990s, but officials rejected those efforts.

In 2006, gay activists trying to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just outside the Kremlin wall were arrested by riot police and harangued by religious and ultranationalist group members.

Last year, at least one gay rights activist was assaulted during a small protest in Moscow while uniformed police officers stood by and watched.

Dancer and singer Boris Moiseyev, one of Russia’s few openly gay pop stars, said in March he received death threats from Muslim activists. His extravagant shows have been banned in several Russian cities, and the Orthodox Church condemned him for “propagating sodomy and sin.”

Meanwhile, despite their rejection of a marriage license in Moscow on Tuesday, Fedotova and Shepitko — wearing suits and bow ties and holding flowers — held hands and kissed. They said they would continue to fight for recognition of gay rights in Russia.

Fedotova, a 30-year-old public relations consultant, said she has lived through years of threats and intimidation and wants to a marriage equal to that of heterosexual couples.
She said she met Shipitko, a 32-year-old fashion designer, five years ago and they have both “reached marriage age for sure.”

Associated Press writer Peter Leonard contributed to this report.

See also :

Slavic Pride: UK Foreign Office Revises Guidance for Gay Travellers in Moscow

By Jessica Geen • May 12, 2009 – Pink News

eurovision-2009The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has released new guidance for gay travellers in Russia, advising that visitors to Moscow should be aware of possible violence at a planned gay pride march this weekend.

Gay rights activists have said they will hold Slavic Pride on Saturday to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest final, which the Russian capital is hosting.

City officials have warned they will break up any attempts to hold the march. In May 2006, more than 120 people were arrested after campaigners attempted to hold the capital’s first gay rights rally.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was among those who were beaten by rightwing extremists during an attempt to hold a march in 2007.

He said yesterday he would still attend the march to show solidarity with Russian campaigners, despite being beaten almost unconscious and then arrested.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance states that while homosexuality is legal in Russia, gay couples should be aware that there is still a degree of intolerance towards homosexuality from some sections of the population and should be careful about open displays of affection.

Russian gay rights movement leader Nikolai Alexeyev has said he expects up to 500 people to join the parade despite official threats to close down any march.

He said he asked city authorities for permission to hold the march but added that 100 activists were prepared to disobey officials and risk prosecution by marching anyway.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has branded gay parades “Satanic” in the past.

Link to the original article

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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.

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“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

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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.

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Moscow, March 31, 2009 (GayRussia.ru) – Two organisers of Moscow Gay Pride were arrested yesterday by police in Ryazan, a city located 200 km southeast of Moscow

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Photo: Nicolas Baev, GayRussia.ru

Nikolai Baev and Irina Fet were detained in the city centre and charged with “propaganda of homosexuality to minors”, an offence that carries a fine.

The two were later released from custody on the promise that they would appear in Court.

This morning, they appeared in court which adjourned the case for a week for the police papers to be studied.

Nikolai Baev and Irina Fet were part of a group of four activists – including Nikolai Alekseev and a local activist from Ryazan.

They were carrying several banners in the city centre, close to a school and a library when the police made the arrests.

“In many other countries, homosexuality is explained at schools. In Russia it’s different,” Irina Fet said this morning.

The activists aimed to denounce a law on ‘administrative’ offences in force in the Russian region of Ryazan since 2006 that forbids the propaganda of homosexuality to minors.

Ryazan region is one of the regions that compose the Russian Federation – and each region can have its own laws provided none of them breach the Russian Constitution.

It is the only region of Russia which has a law explicitly banning propaganda of homosexuality.

The activists claim that the law against “propaganda of homosexuality to minors”, which forbids any discussion of homosexuality with children, is unconstitutional.

“We came here to denounce a law which is not only homophobic but which is also against the Constitution of this country,” said Nikolai Alekseev.

“This action was a necessary step to appeal the cancellation of this law to the Constitutional Court.

“We are giving a strong signal to other regions as well as federal authorities which plan to follow the same path,” he added.

Last year, the activists managed to obtain from the Ministry of Health the end of the ban on blood donation by gays – a result that is seen as the first success for LGBT rights in Russia since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993.

Their campaign for Freedom of Assembly in Russia has been going on for four years, with 168 banned gay marches appealed to European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.