Archive for the ‘Queer’ Category

It's Not the Homosexual Who is Perverse But the Situation in Which He Lives

It’s Not the Homosexual Who is Perverse But the Situation in Which He Lives
1970, 16mm on video, color, sound, 67 min

Saturday, September 26, 7:30 pm

Post screening discussion with Filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim and Film Scholar-Historian Ger Zielinski

Pre-screening introduction by MIX NYC Executive Director Stephen Kent Jusick

Co-presented with UnionDocs

322 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
www.uniondocs.org

L to Lorimer Street / G to Metropolitan Ave
J to Hewes Street

Part of Rosa von Praunheim Weekend at Union Docs. The filmmaker will join Ger Zielinski following the Saturday screening for an in-person discussion about “It’s Not the Homosexual Who is Perverse….”

In German with English subtitles. A radically critical denunciation of homosexuals who are content to fit into a gay stereotype of social superficiality and political passivity in the face of blatant discrimination, this film caused a furor in Germany. It also led to the foundation of the modern German gay liberation movement. The appearance of this film was crucial to the founding of the new German gay movement. Over 50 political gay groups sprang up in the wake of his film’s showing in the cities and towns of Germany.

***

Filmmaker and gay-rights activist Rosa von Praunheim is one of the leading figures in gay and lesbian cinema and New German Cinema, although his deliberately controversial techniques, designed to challenge audiences, have sometimes caused him to be criticized by both gay and anti-gay supporters.

Ger Zielinski, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where he is working on 1970s and 80s NYC queer minor cinemas and their scenes. He also spends months of the year as a researcher in the Institut für Europäische Ethnologie at Humboldt Universität in Berlin. He was an experimental film curator with the nomadic Pleasure Dome in Toronto for many years and continues to program independently.

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boycott+jamaica,+castro,+todd,+signs+on+poleVeteran queer community organizer Todd Swindell tapes up boycott posters on a pole in Harvey Milk Plaza, before the rum dump begins. His tee shirt reads, “The Religious Right is Dead Wrong.” March 29, 2009 © Michael Petrelis

Politicians and pop stars are to blame

Jamaica: A grim place to be gay

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

The Independent – London – 12 September 2009

In the wake of the murder of the British honorary consul in Jamaica, in an apparent queer-bashing attack, is it time to make British and EU aid to Jamaica contingent on the Caribbean island’s repeal of its anti-gay laws and its tougher action against homophobic violence?

Some years ago, a Jamaican newspaper falsely claimed there was going to be a Gay Pride march in Kingston. Hundreds of people wielding guns, machetes, clubs and knives turned up at the alleged starting point of the march. They had come to kill the “batty men”. Armed police turned up too – not to protect the gay marchers, but I believe to help murder them.

Under Jamaican law, consenting adult male homosexuality is a crime punishable by 10 years of hard labour. Paedophiles are treated more leniently. Men who sexually abuse girls in their early teens face only seven years in jail.

Not all Jamaicans are homophobic but it seems Jamaican police view all gays as criminals. They mostly refuse to protect them. Amnesty International confirms that gays and lesbians have been “beaten, cut, burned, raped and shot on account of their sexuality”. Amnesty says the Jamaican police are themselves often the perpetrators of homophobic “violence and torture”.

Gays taken to hospital after being beaten by homophobes risk the ordeal of hostile doctors and nurses. Some have been insulted and ridiculed by staff and made to wait nearly 24 hours for medical treatment.

Successive Jamaican Prime Ministers have failed to challenge homophobic violence. The Police Commissioner has done nowhere near enough to crack down on the violence. The killers of gays usually get away with murder. “It is like living in Afghanistan under the Taliban,” one gay Jamaican told me.

The homophobic lynch mob mentality is worse in Jamaica than in Saudi Arabia or Iran. Not long ago, a homophobic crowd burst into a church and beat up mourners attending the funeral of a gay man.

This anti-gay hatred is inflamed by Jamaica’s fire and brimstone Christian churches. The local Anglican archbishop, Drexel Gomez, is a vociferous opponent of gay human rights.

Homophobic violence is openly incited by Jamaica’s leading pop stars. Some of their most popular hit tunes urge listeners to shoot, burn, stab, hang and drown queers. These songs are incitement to murder, which is a criminal offence under Jamaican law. But the government and police refuse to prosecute the singers.

It is time British and EU aid was made contingent on Jamaica repealing its anti-gay laws and protecting its citizens against homophobic violence.

ENDS

www.petertatchell.net

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

On the same subject by bohoco.net:

Dear all,

I recently learnt that Youtube freely broadcasts a song by notorious hate-lyric singer, Jamaican Buju Banton. In the tradition of some dance hall and reggae Jamaican singers, Buju Banton advocates the killing of gays and lesbians in his song Boom Bye Bye. Peter Thatchell and other gay activists were instrumental in having a few of his concerts cancelled in Europe and else where. The Stop Murder Music campaign was also successful in bringing a few singers to sign up to the Reggae Compassionate Act where they basically pledged not to support violence in theirs songs anymore. Just very recently one promoter in the States also cancelled a series of concerts by Buju Banton (he was one of the signatories but later denied ever taking part).

The fact that Youtube broadcasts Boom Bye Bye is despicable. It’s a song which clearly incites to hatred and should be removed. Plus it’s clearly in breach of Youtubes’s ‘community guidelines’

http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines

There are several versions of the same song, please click on the links below, flag as ‘promotes hatred or violence’, and then select ‘sexual orientation’ as a sub-category.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0Eg4Dd9NY4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIUZlzd37sI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwEUPb8QutQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVYLB_aSGok&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWa7fzeX3xo&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRkc3WEcJis&NR=1

It literally takes 2 minutes and I would beg you to forward this to as many people as you possibly can in your contacts and lets get this hate-mongering filth removed.

Many thanks.
Carmelo


17.08.09: a foreign gay couple is attacked by a mob of youths in Agropoli, near Naples.
19.08.09: a gay singer is badly beaten up by a thug in Rome.
24.08.09: a thug attacks a gay couple in Rome, stabbing one and smashing a bottle on the other’s head.
24.08.09: a gay couple is abused and beaten by a neighbour over a parking quarrel in Rimini.
26.08.09: a gay disco, the Qube, host to the most famous gay night in the capital city, is the target of an incendiary attack.
28.09.09: a gay couple living in Caserta, near Naples, is abused by their neighbours who threathen to make a petition to throw them out from their block of flats.
Italian Gays Under Siege
This gruesome chain of events sounds like a war bulletin, given the close proximity in time, and while is in itself terribly shocking and demanding immediate attention from the gay community and the dormant Italian authorities, it’s only the tip of the iceberg – Italian gay organization Arcigay claims that since January of this year, 56 episodes of homophobic attacks have already been reported. And the key word here is ‘reported’, as we only know too well that not everyone is willing to report crimes for whatever reason.
The question is: how many more? how many more gays have to be verbally abused, phisically attacked, stabbed, beaten, you name it, before the Italian parliament comes up with a shred of law which protects their gay citizens against homophobic-motivated attacks? A law which can be used as a deterrent, at best, and as an added punitive measure, at worst.
While Italy is becoming embroiled in his PM’s bedroom dealings with call-girls and Italian politics turns into a soap opera of the worst kind (which can only be representative of the current sad state of the nation), people in flesh and blood are still being treated as second class citizens. Italy is also one of the very few countries in the EU which still lacks a civil partnership law, which would finally legitimize, at least in the eyes of the law, a civil union between two gay people.
What was in the old times a cradle of civilization is sadly today a cradle of bigotry and conservatism, whose lay status is consistently threatened by the highly holy homophobic Church of Rome.
Who is responsible for this recent spate of crimes? Excessive heat in the way of 40 degrees can drive to insanity even the sanest of people. But jokes aside, the Vatican stance that a homophobic hate-crime law would open the gates to civil partnerships and the adoption of children from gay couples is well known, and so is a statement made by the pope in recent times comparing homosexuality to the destruction of the tropical forest (talk about incitement to hatred). A few Italian center-right wing politicians and even ministers (Alessandra Mussolini, Mirko Tremaglia, Roberto Calderoli) have freely, and with impunity, used the word ‘faggot’ to refer to homosexuals in recent times. The current government is led by a coalition of center and right wing parties which are traditionally anti-gay. And when all these factors are added up, you’d be excused for thinking that there’s enough to foster a climate of violence and give a thuggish retard the sense that beating up a persona non grata is no big deal.
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:

BortSt. Petersburg to Host Russia’s Biggest Queer Cultural Event

(Photograph: Bort)

St. Petersburg – The International Festival of Queer Culture 2009 – September 17-27, 2009 – will take place in this Russian city as the largest-scale event of this type in this country so far. Several public organisations and initiative groups of St. Petersburg, both LBGT and non-LBGT, have joined forces to create this 10-day multi-event festival which is supported by partners varying from the Swedish and Dutch consulates to the St. Petersburg guidebooks.

The program includes theatrical performances, photo and art exhibitions, poetry slams, seminars, workshops, discussions, and music. Rockfest, the closing festival event, presents several emerging as well as well-established bands from St. Petersburg and is head-lined by the American group, Betty.

The events also include the 3rd stage of this year’s ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network) World Rainbow Cultural Conference (earlier stages in Bucharest and Budapest) on September 21 – with a special focus on Nordic rainbow cultural co-operation with collegues in Eastern Europe. It will also include the ILGCN’s and Tupilak’s (Nordic rain bow cultural workers) travelling art and photo exhibition with works from 25 nations.

“Queer” is the chosen concept for the festival aiming to celebrate university and diversity and as a rebellion against stigmas and labels. The term “queer” aims to go beyond the LGBT-sphere and to include everyone, expanding the rigid frameworks surrounding social stereotypes and stereotypes of identity, sex and gender. The message the festival hopes to bring forward is that all are different but all are united by one language – the language of art, and by common values – values of love, tolerance and mutual respect. The ambition of the festival is also to unite different people around constructive creativity and positive emotions.

More information and questions: http://www.queerfest.ru/en/index.shtml

Information concerning the ILGCN conference and activities: www.ilgcn.tupilak.org

19 September:

Queer Bard Fest:
* Olga Krauze
* Yulia Sivakova and Olga Vasilyeva
* Tatiana Puchko
* Uliana Angelevskaya
* Yelena Tsertlih
* Olga Vorontsova
* Vasiliy Romanov
* Oleg Razygrin
* Maria Sabunaeva
* Samolety ne tayut
* Dance performance by dance groups Amsterdam and 3dance

Night Fest:
* Final of the “Drag King” competition
* Performance by the Drag Queen Diva Ursula

20 September:

Opening of the Photo Fest:

* Official opening ceremony of the photo exhibitions

Theatrical performances by:

* Theater group Dvanadva (Twobytwo)
* Masterskaya Teatralnyh Eksperimentov (Workshop of Theatrical Experiments)
* One-Person Show by Uliana Angelevskaya “Letters to Lilechka” based on letters and songs of Alexander Vertinsky

21 September:

Seminars, Workshops and Discussions:

* Art Workshop by Insight (Ukraine)
* Seminar “Nordic Rainbow Cooperation with Eastern Europe” by Bill Schiller (ILGCN, Sweden)

22 September:

Seminars, Workshops and Discussions:

* Round table/discussion by the Organizing Committee of the Festival on promotion of tolerance through art and culture and social responsibility of an artist

23 September:

Seminars, Workshops and Discussions:

* Seminar by St. Petersburg Organization Gender

25 September:

Seminars, Workshops and Discussions:

* Seminar by the Coalition “Ksenofobia.net” (No to Xenophobia)
* Art Workshop by Lia Kirgetova
* Seminar by St. Petersburg Organization “Egida of St. Petersburg” on the topic of discrimination of women in the sphere of labor

26 September:

Queer Rock Fest:

* Kolibri
* Iva Nova
* Bosie
* Xenos
* Project’4e
* Fillin
* Diskodrift

And to close the Festival:

* American Rock Group Betty
* As well as a show of Body Art

27 September:

Poetic Slam Fest:

* Irina Goryunova (Moscow)
* Yelena Novozhilova (Moscow)
* Dita Karelina (Minsk)
* Martha Yakovleva (Moscow)
* Anya Ru (Moscow)
* Marina Lebedeva (St. Petersburg)
* Rio del Magra (St. Petersburg)
* Nikita Podvysotsky (St. Petersburg)
* Lia Kirgetova (Moscow)
* Katya Erdesh (St. Petersburg)
* Ruslan Zhelubovsky (St. Petersburg)
* Vladimir Khrustalev (St. Petersburg)
* Tanya Ivanova (St. Petersburg)

Night Fest:

* Closing of the International Queer Festival party (with participation by the group Betty)

Film Fest:

* Film Beyond the Pink Curtain (UK)

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/

MitvolGayClubOleg Mitvol entering gay club on Friday evening

State Duma Deputy sues Moscow Prefect over allegation he was protecting a gay club

As the story developed today, it turned that the club became the hostage of the electoral fight in one of Moscow’s constituencies for the upcoming City Duma elections.

“It’s not a question of a gay club, it’s not a question of the society of blind people, it’s not a question of sexual minorities, it is a question of an electoral campaign which started and in which I am running in the same constituency than the Prefect,” declared tonight Oleg Smolin, deputy and member of the Communist party.

The deputy announced that he will sue the Prefect in court over an attempt to spoil his reputation in the upcoming electoral campaign.

Mr Smolin claims 5 million roubles (approx 109’700 EUR) from the Prefect and 1 rouble from each TV channel which reported the story.

Mr Mitvol and Mr Smolin are running in the same constituency in two opposed lists.

Last Friday, the Prefect of the Northern administrative district of Moscow accused Mr Smolin of protecting the interests of the club “Body&Soul (ex-Chance)”.

“The Duma deputy of the Communist Party is protecting the interests of this club. Is it moral?” Mr Mitvol asked the journalists last Friday.

The same day the Prefect raided the club at night joined by the anti-drug police and the prosecution department, arresting two clients.

At the end of July Mr Mitvol initiated a campaign for morality in the city targeting gay clubs, saunas and love hotels saying that “such places which lead to the moral degradation of citizens and become the source of troubles should be closed”.

Citing complaints from residents to his office, Mr Mitvol received an unsurprising backing of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians (Pentecostals) which gathered 70 persons during a protest held in front of the club “Body&Soul (ex-Chance)” on Saturday. The action was authorized by the city authorities.

Earlier today, the LGBT Network, asked the Criminal Prosecution to open an investigation against the Prefect for incitation to hatred and degradation of human dignity.

“There is nothing in the words of the Prefect which can lead to his prosecution on the basis of Article 282 of Russian Criminal Code”, declared head of Russian LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru Nikolai Alekseev.

“In comparison to what we heard in 2005 from the Mufti Tadjuddin and in 2008 from the Governor of Tambov region Oleg Betin, Mr Mitvol did not call to beat or kill gays and lesbians”, Alekseev added.

Following the request, sent to the prosecution, the Prefect declared tonight that “gays have started a campaign to support communists and became their lawyers”.

Mr Mitvol’s campaign for increased morality targeted only one gay club.

Local observers mention that surprisingly the Prefect targeted so far only a gay club which happens to rent its hall from an organization of which the Vice President is Mr Smolin, his direct competitor in the upcoming elections.

Mr Smolin said tonight that his complain to court will argue that the words of the Prefect saying he protects a gay club is an attempt to spoil his reputation over the electoral campaign.

This case will not be a premiere in Russian court history.

In September Moscow Court will hear the complaint of a former participant in the Russian version of Big Brother’s TV show against the newspaper “Express Gazeta” and the gay internet portal Gay.ru

Vasiliy Pechen is suing over allegation in which he was described as gay and working as a male prostitute. He told the journalists that he was refused several jobs after the allegations were published.

The claimant is seeking financial damages of 3 million roubles (approx 65’800 EUR) from “Express Gazeta” and 1 million roubles (approx 22’000 EUR) from Gay.ru. In addition, Mr Pechen demands a refutation to be published by the defendants.

“Sexual orientation on its own should not be considered as spoiling a reputation. This goes exactly against what we are fighting for,” said Nikolai Alekseev, before adding that “being gay is not unlawful in Russia”.

“However, information that someone is getting money for sex services is a different story especially since prostitution carries an administrative fine according to the law,” he added.

GayRussia.Ru

Behind the Scenes Story Of 2009 Gay Pride in Moscow by Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network

A member of OMOH, Russia's SWAT policeA member of OMOH, Russia’s SWAT police © Gay Liberation Network

Sunday, May 17, 5 PM local time

MOSCOW – By the time I am finally posting this, many already know the basic story of violent government repression of Saturday’s Gay Pride Parade in this city.

The delay in this post comes as a result of being participant in the action. Several hours were lost due to police detention and then feverish attempts to help our Russian and Belorussian colleagues facing far more serious situations. Finally, our Moscow police friends are now in the possession of a very fine Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ6 memory card, so this story is mainly illustrated with the help of another photographer who would lose her job if credited properly for her work.

I’ll therefore concentrate on the parts of this remarkable story that people who saw the news reports still don’t know:

* the bizarrely extensive lengths that the authorities undertook to pre-empt our action

* the tactical finesse shown by Pride organizers that allowed us to dodge that pre-emption, and

* my personal experience as a participant in the action.

But first and most importantly, here is the latest news on the situation facing our Russian and Belorussian friends:

Around mid-day today, Moscow Time, all of our people were finally released. Holding him and other key activists well past the mandated three hour time limit, the Russian authorities are trying to make an example of Moscow Pride’s foremost organizer, Nikolai Alekseev, by slapping multiple charges on him beyond the traditional “demonstrating without a permit” violation.

Even though he is finally released following a hearing this morning, Alekseev’s attorney Dmitri Bartenev told me that the exact nature of the charges against Alekseev aren’t clear, except that since he has been released, he cannot now be sentenced to jail time. Bartenev and the public were barred from this morning’s hearing. Alekseev faces trial on May 26.

Despite the violent attack by OMOH cops, the Russian equivalent of SWAT police, fortunately no one was seriously injured. Also, after some initial very worrying reports about threats to deport our Belorussian friends, who might in turn face incarceration by their country’s dictatorial regime, we’re happy to report that they have been released.

The Russian State vs Gays:
The bizarre lengths to which they will go

As noted in an earlier post, days before Saturday’s Pride action we learned that the authorities were planning a pre-emptive arrest of lead Pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev. This was forestalled by having the entire group decamp to a rural location outside of Moscow, rather than at their usual homes and workplaces.

Round 1: Pride organizers

Discussions

Preparing for the action

The day before the action we learned through a reliable press source that the authorities were planning on blockading the main roads into Moscow. Despite having more than10 million inhabitants, there are only seven main roads into the city, and the police20were on the look-out in particular for a bus with some of the usual suspects plus a generous gathering of 20-something activists.

Map Preparation

To a Westerner this story sounds like the product of feverish paranoia, but to those who live in what can at best be described as a quasi-democracy, such a report can’t be dismissed out of hand. So with the help of friends in other vehicles, the story was checked out in person and yes, police were stopping and searching almost all vehicles coming into the city limits. Another activist reported seeing police in possession of photos of key activists.

Showing remarkable poise the Pride organizers quickly changed transport plans, switched us from coach to a commuter train just outside the check points around Moscow’s ring road, directed us to take the train for one stop inside the ring road, then switched to a group of vans to take us the rest of the way to the protest site.

Round 2: Pride organizer

One of the main difficulties in organizing a public action in a police state is deploying the action to the press and public before the authorities round everyone up. But with an extra bevy of cameramen, sound people, still photographers and print people in town for the huge Eurovision music festival, to say that they can’t blend into a crowd is an understatement. Add to this the fact that while our side has sources in the media, the police do as well, especially all of the Russian-based broadcast media, who are a virtual telegraph agency to the other side.

The media have to be advised of the specific time and location of the action at the last possible moment, as any gathering of them tips off the cops that something is about to happen. Anyone in proximity to them is of course suspected of being an illegal demonstrator despite not showing any banners or signs.

05_press_call_--_an_arrest2

So we came to a popular bluff on the Moscow River overlooking the city, where lots of weddings take place, camouflaged as … a heterosexual wedding party. The groom? Why, of course, Nikolai Alekseev! And the bride walking arm-in-arm with “her” man? A young Belorussian gay activist dressed in a fine wedding gown. “She” and the groom passed very well, thank you, including through a few ranks of loitering policemen en route (thanks also to their rented limousine). Other groups of the “wedding party” converged from other directions.

As a rank and file participant in the protest lacking even basic Russian language skills, I didn’t know the overall plan until it unfolded in a rolling manner, with groups of activists unfolding banners, flags and signs to a forest of media cameras. Shortly after each group revealed itself, Russian OMOH cops (their equivalent of SWAT police) waded through the sea of press and violently arrested the protesters.

06_omoh3

07_nikolai_baev_l_and_edward_murzin_r_talk_to_the_press

08_another_arrest2

I was taken into custody for holding up a bilingual sign and rapidly taken to a waiting Moscow squadrol. I was soon joined by a few other protesters, at which time the police checked our identification documents. Apparently the police decided it was too much of a hassle to deal with a foreign national from the west, and they released me.

Not seeing the error of my ways, I went right back to a nearby corner where about 50+ press personnel were milling about filing their reports, identified myself to one of them as a protester, and began speaking to her about why I was proud to participate in the protest. This rapidly drew a gaggle of dozens more press around me. They knew better than I that speaking out in favor of gay rights on a street corner of Russia was a civil liberties train wreck waiting to happen, and they wanted to film it as the inevitable happened.

After a sentence or two praising the courage of Russian and Belorussian LGBT activists, I began speaking about how the police attack on gay and lesbian rights should be a concern of all Russians as it was an attack on their democratic freedoms. At just that point the OMOH cops grabbed and dragged me away, making my point much more effectively than any words I could have uttered.

By cleverly timing their event to coincide with Eurovision, which is probably Europe’s highest-profile annual cultural event, Pride organizers scored an unprecedented victory for LGBT rights in Russia. Alekseev reports that this year’ s Pride gathered far more press than the very heavily covered events in previous years. By coinciding Pride with Eurovision, an event which should celebrate free expression not just in the arts, but everywhere, Pride organizers helped drive home the danger of the government’s prohibition on the right of assembly for Russian gays and lesbians. The 4th annual gay Pride in Moscow was an unqualified success, with the political points of its organizers broadcast around the world, which can only serve to help isolate the anti-gay regime.

As I write this Sunday afternoon at the dining room table of Russian flat, I’m surrounded by a joyous gathering of Russian LGBT activists celebrating the release of the last of the imprisoned, talking rapidly in Russian with me not understanding a word. That’s okay. Their spirit is infectious, their determination to continue fighting clear.

09_nikolai_celebrationNicolai Alekseev celebrating his release with friends

10_celebration

I learned a ton from our Russian and Belorussian friends over the past few days. To say that it was a useful political organizing experience is a huge understatement.

SIDE-BAR
Edward Murzin:
A ‘Politician’ Who Gave More For Gay Pride
Than Most Gays Themselves

In the Spring of 2008, Edward Murzin was a member of a provincial Duma, the Russian equivalent of a state legislature. In Russia’s increasingly undemocratic political structure, that made his seat more secure than the most gerrymandered, “safe” U.S. Congressional district.

11_edward_murzinEdward Murzin serving up barbeque on the first evening our two-day conference outside of Moscow © Gay Liberation Network

But he did an unusual thing for a politician – something that marked him as not a politician at all. He listened to a persecuted minority within his district and despite their unpopularity, he stood up for what is right, and paid a higher price for fighting against inequality of gays than most gays themselves.

It’s not like he set out to become a martyr. In his humility, he freely admits that he didn’t know what he wa s getting into when he, as a politician, stood up for gay equality in anti-gay official Russia.

“I didn’t know [that] it would be so unpopular. I wasn’t so aware. I didn’t know what would happen if I protected gay rights. I had people in my region who are gay, and they asked me to protect their rights.”

“I [knew] I could go to the election, and all the people in my section would vote for me. They’re not going to change their minds because I protect gays, but the authorities didn’t like that.” They refused to allow him to run for re-election and he lost his job.

“Now I feel that homophobia is real (he laughs). And I will participate next year in gay actions like Slavik Pride because I think it is one of the main points to change society.”

For doing the right thing he paid a high price. He lost his job and is unemployed in a region of the world where unemployment and destitution far surpasses what most of us in the United States experience.

“Now I work as an [unpaid] human rights20activist. I’m not a politician anymore.”

And his concerns are not limited to gays alone.

Fascist violence against national minorities in Russia is endemic, with “non-white” peoples of Asian Russia and the Caucuses routinely subjected to unofficial violence and official harassment. The blatant discrimination is so rife that even a few of the guidebooks to Moscow that I purchased before my visit specifically warned people who couldn’t pass for European, that they would likely face harassment by police on the streets of the city.

“Every year, violence in the field of xenophobia rises in Russia, 18% or 20% per year,” said Murzin. “We have to be more tolerant to survive, because in Russia we are multinational. I am a human rights activist.”

A far more honorable “profession,” albeit poorly paid.

Previous posts and photos in this series can be seen at:
http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/86605/index.php
and
http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/86617/index.php

This article and the photos referenced below are in the public domain. However, please credit them to Andy Thayer / Gay Liberation Network

Andy Thayer

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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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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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