Archive for the ‘Moscow’ 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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Alexeyev-Kostyukov

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.

Source

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

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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.

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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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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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