Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

Homophobia in Russia: Eurovision Protest 2009

An opponent of the rights of LGBT people wants to close the gap between Russian and International laws.

Sent by Nicolas Alexeyev.

A Member of the Federation Council of Russia – the Upper-Chamber of the Parliament – Vasily Likhachev, known for his sharp rejection of the civil rights of sexual minorities, was appointed Deputy Minister of Justice.

As reported Gazeta.ru on February 27, the main point in his agenda will be to close the gap between the Russian and the International laws.

But when it comes to LGBT rights the new Deputy Minister of Justice is well known for a series of homophobic remarks.

Just two days before his appointment, Mr Likhachev publicly justified the denial by the Ministry of Justice to register ‘Marriage Equality Russia’, a gay group advocating for same-sex marriage:

“The steps taken by the representatives of the gay community, contradict with the general state of morality of the Russian society because it is not our culture and our form of relations”

In 2006, Mr Likhachev called to use any way to stop the process of family rights of same-sex couple “Already in 7 countries of the European Union, homosexuals are allowed to adopt children. The number of countries where same-sex marriages are permitted continues to grow, that’s why in questions concerning gays, there shouldn’t be maximum permissiveness otherwise, we will go too far and the development of the world will go in the wrong direction”

He further defended the ban of a gay pride in Moscow, arguing that “Minority affects the interests of the majority. City authorities are absolutely right that they did not follow the interest of sexual minorities. There could not be any other discussion here”

A similar position that Mr Likhachev repeated a year later in 2007: The society should not abide by the desires of sexual minorities because homosexuals touch the interest of the majority of the people of traditional orientation,

“The respect of human rights must not violate the moral and ethic. And if such a violation occurs, the authorities must apply the relevant laws to prevent it”

Commenting about the appointment of Mr Likhachev, Nikolai Baev, a co-organizer of Moscow Pride said:

“The new Deputy Minister of Justice does not consider the rights of homosexuals to depend on the constitution or the law of this country,

“Moral, ethic and the interest of the majority of the population is sufficient in his eyes to discriminate against us” said Nikolai Baev.

Gay activist further expressed concerns about the future of registering LGBT groups as non-profit organization in the country.

“The Ministry of Justice denied so far to register any NGO which would officially advocate for the rights of gays and lesbians, but, with the appointment of Mr Likhachev we doubt the trend will reverse”

“The only solution is to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights but this process takes years” ended Nikolai Baev.

GayRussia.Ru
http://www.gayrussia.ru/en/news/detail.php?ID=15226

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Russia denied registering a Gay Group campaigning for Marriage Equality

Sent by Nicolas Alexeyev

The Russian Ministry of Justice turned down the application of a group of gay and lesbian activists to register the first All Russia NGO dedicated to support the campaign for Same-Sex Marriage.

“Your organization cannot be registered on the basis that its aims contradict the law on NGOs and provisions of the family code which define marriage as a union between a man and a woman“ says the letter received by the board of the organization.

The board said today that “we asked today the Russian justice to reverse this illegal decision, and we will go all the way up the European Court of Human Rights if necessary”

‘Marriage Equality Russia’ is backed by a group of Moscow and St Petersburg LGBT groups as well as individuals, also heterosexuals.

The campaign is already running since last May when the group helped a lesbian couple to register their union in Moscow. After getting a denial from the Civil Registrar, the couple entered into Marriage last October in Toronto.

The couple is about to introduce an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights after the Russian justice twice upheld the denial.

One of the spouses, Irina Fedotova (Fet), a board member of ‘Marriage Equality Russia’ said about her participation in the organization:

“This campaign is not only about my marriage with Irina. We want to bring our contribution to help opening the way to marriage to other gays and lesbians and not only in Russia”.

Nikolai Alekseev, spokesman for ‘Marriage Equality Russia’ said:

“Russia is a country where you cannot hold a march in the streets if you openly advertize it as gay, and this is the same with registering an openly gay organization”

“We could probably succeed in registering a NGO and remain discreet on its aim or organize a march without applying it as a gay march, but there is simply no sense in staying in the closet. Only the fight for visibility gets you in the media and help with time to make more people open about us.”

“Knocking at each door in secret and quietly explain what is homosexuality is not going to take us anywhere in a country of 141 million”

Last October, a group of UN experts found that discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation is “systematic”.

Marriage Equality Russia

Logo of the organization available on line at: www.marriageequality.ru/en
Photos and videos of All Russia’s marriage campaign available on www.marriageequality.ru/en

Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko, Russian Lesbian Couple Just Married in Toronto by GayRussia.Ru.

The couple intends to start a legal battle to have their union recognized in Russia.

Despite all obsticles and legal restrictions in Russia, a lesbian couple entered into same-sex marriage in Toronto yesterday. Numerous media and local activists were present at the ceremony during which Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko exchanged woes.

The wedding was held by Harvey Brownstone, a well-known openly gay judge at the family court of northern Toronto. The newly wed couple received their marriage certificate which they intend to use upon their return to Russia to have their Canadian marriage also recognized in their home country.

The couple together with their lawyer and organiser of Moscow Gay Pride Nikolai Alekseev as well as local activists hosted a press conference at the Toronto City Hall before the ceremony during which Canadian gay activists spoke about their struggle for marriage equality stressing the importance of supporting similar movements in other countries, including Russia. They compared the fight for same sex marriage in Russia with a similar campaign which started in Canada two decades ago.

After the press conference, Toronto Mayor David Miller congratulated Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko and thanked the couple for having chosen Toronto for their marriage. Later he wrote in his Twitter blog: “Just met Irena and Irena from russia here to get married; then going home to fight for human rights. Well done women, well done”.

Mayor Miller commented: “They’re so happy you can feel their happiness. And what a great statement from our city that we can lead the world in human rights and that people will come to Toronto to seek equal treatment and respect and joy and love”.

On Friday night dozens of people attended the wedding reception which was held in a restaurant of the gay village of Toronto. During the party, the audience watched pictures of the couple’s attempt to register their marriage in Moscow last May, as well as a video footage of this year’s Slavic Gay Pride in Moscow.

Nikolai Alekseev said on Friday: “We are delighted with the warm welcome in this wonderful country and in this stunning city of Toronto. Even though it is not my marriage, this is a day I will hardly forget. We are grateful to the Canadian LGBT organization EGALE for helping us in organizing the wedding of our Irinas in Toronto”.

Organizer of the Moscow gay Pride stressed: “Many in Russia, including in the LGBT community, think that same sex marriage is impossible but the fight for marriage equality in Russia today is an investment in a democratic and free future of the country. We know that we will get it one day and this is the reason why we have to start now”.

“I salute the courage of Irina and Irina who are showing today that there are no barriers to love. They give a great message of hope”.

Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko explained during a press conference after the registration of their marriage, that they intend to fight to have their marriage recognized in Russia. They stressed that “This is only the beginning of a long journey of recognition of family rights for same-sex couples in Russia.”

The couple explained that “We get a lot of mails and messages of congratulations from gays and lesbians in Russia who also want to have their union recognized but most of them are not able to fight for their rights. We are confident that our struggle will soon benefit to them”.

On Saturday, Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko will celebrate their union in Niagara Falls – a place famous with honeymooners.

On May 12, the Tverskoi Registry Office refused to register the marriage of Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko arguing that under the Family Code a marriage can only be registered between a man and a woman. A judge of the Tverskoi district court upheld the refusal on October 6. The couple appealed the decision and further announced that they are ready to take their case up to the European Court of Human Rights.

GayRussia.Ru

More photos of the wedding:
Photos from the ceremony presided by Judge Harvey Brownstone:
Photos with the Mayor of Toronto David Miller who congratulated the girls in his Twitter:
Video report from Toronto Sun:
Video report from City TV:

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

gaybielo

Gay Russia and Gay Belarus to host largest Ever Gay Human Rights Conference in Belarus.

The event will take place on September 26 in Minsk.

MINSK, September 25, 2009 – Almost 100 participants are expected to take part in a gay human rights conference in the Belarus capital tomorrow (September 26).

Over 30 NGOs and LGBT groups have registered to speak at the one-day event. And this has caused a problem for the organisers in finding a room large enough.

“It is challenging, but not impossible, to organize a human rights conference in Belarus,” one of the organisers commented. “But, when it turns to be a LGBT rights conference, then, no one is ready to rent you a place anymore.”

For months, the organisers attempted to book different venues. But their requests were always turned down. Finally, they managed to find a venue, but are not yet disclosing where – even to the delegates.

Sergey Androsenko, a conference co-organiser and leader of the local advocacy group GayBelarus, said that many do not really know what are the demands and the challenges face by the LGBT community.

“We cannot let them think any longer that gays are boys dressed like girls just because they saw one singer in woman’s clothes on TV. We have to be visible, so that people hear us and see us as we are really.”

Thirty years ago, Harvey Milk expressed the same view:“We are coming out to fight the lies”.

Tomorrow’s event has been made possible as a joint project, funded and supported by the LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru.

It will be held under the patronage of the IDAHO Committee – the Committee of the International Day Against Homophobia.

This is not the first event held by the IDAHO in Eastern Europe. In May 2006, the IDAHO Committee supported the First Moscow Pride Festival, an event that marked a breakthrough after 12 years of silence of the LGBT community in Russia.

Louis-Georges Tin, the President of the IDAHO Committee sees in the conference as “a step that will help local activists to raise awareness for their struggle”.

“It is our duty to help and support activists especially when they ask for our help. It is a unique chance for LGBT activists to discuss and express their demands,” said Mr Tin.

The conference will show reports from different activists and the plan is to strengthen discussion between the LGBT movements and other Human Rights NGOs. This is why the subject of the conference is LGBT Movement and NGOs: Prospect for Cooperation to Overcome Homophobia in Belarus.

The conference is also supported by Hamburg Pride and the Swedish Embassy.

Attending will be mainly Belarus people, but activists from Russia, Germany, France, Switzerland and Sweden are travelling to Minsk to show their support – and share their experiences.

“We are here to facilitate the dialogue between human rights groups and the LGBT movement,” said Alekseev of GayRussia and chief organiser of the Moscow Pride. “We are happy to bring our support and knowledge in organizing such large scale event.

“In less than a year during which we were actively working with our Belarusian colleagues, we have helped them to get more visibility at the international level,” Mr Alekseev added.

Russian and Belarusian LGBT movements ‘twined’ last November and associated their efforts in their joint struggle. The conference is one more step after the first Slavic Pride that they organised last May in Moscow – and the next one that is planned in Minsk in 2010.

The Embassies of three European Union countries – Sweden, Hungary and France – as well as the European Commission’s delegation in Minsk have said they will participate.

The presence of the EU diplomacy is seen as key by the organisers. “Firstly, we want them to monitor any attempt to disrupt the event, and secondly, we want to ensure that LGBT rights will not be forgotten in the human rights dialogue that the EU holds with Belarus,” said Mr Androsenko.

“The LGBT movement in Belarus is just being built. We want to show that we exist and we want to have our place in the human rights discussions in the country.

“For too long, we have been left aside. This is now going to be past,” he added.

GayRussia.Ru

See Also: ILGA Europe

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)

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

Thank you Mayor Luzhkov

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

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gays Without Borders

See Also:

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

See Also:

LAST MINUTE:

40 Arrested as Moscow Anti-Riot Police Use Violence to Break up Slavic Pride March
By Peter Tatchell

Pride organisers call on performers to boycott Eurovision

Moscow – 16th May

Sources from Moscow have reported that police have used violent and oppressive tactics to break up the peaceful Slavic Pride march in the city.

The march had been outlawed by Moscow city authorities, but permission had been given for counter-demonstrations by far right ultra-nationalists.

40 Arrested as Moscow Anti-Riot Police Use Violence to Break up Slavic Pride March – Pride Organisers Call on Performers to Boycott EurovisionBetween 35 and 40 Russian LGBT activists have been arrested, including British human rights activist Peter Tatchell and Chicago LGBT activist Andy Thayer. Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev was held down by 5 fully armed riot police and arrested.

European Embassy diplomats witnessed the violence are said to be planning a joint diplomatic action.

Slavic Pride organisers have called on the artists and performers of Eurovision to boycott tonight’s showpiece event in solidarity with the beaten and arrested protesters.

Organiser Nikolai Alekseev said:

“I call upon all of the artists who are due to perform at tonight’s Eurovision to boycott tonight’s event and send a message that Russia’s state oppression of human rights is not acceptable.

“The Russian Government is using this years Eurovision in Moscow as a gala showpiece to show the world how far the country has improved since the early 1990’s. However, what was witnessed this afternoon on the streets of Moscow shows the world just how little Russia has travelled when it comes to supporting fundamental human rights.

“The police brutality that we witnessed here this afternoon is shocking. We planned a peaceful march to highlight the dire state of LGBT rights in Russia today. The police, given violent legitimacy by the openly homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, did not hold back with their weapons, despite the world’s media watching.

“We were defending the often violated human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians. We demand the same legal protection against discrimination and hate crimes that none LGBT people enjoy.

“This episode has shamed the Russian Government and Moscow authorities before the world.”

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

UPDATE 13:26 (Paris):

Xsenia is arrested together with 31 other activists. Russian and Belarusian have been put in different cells.

Nikolai Alekseev has been put in a separate place. There is no report about him. Apparently, his phone was confiscated and he is not reachable.
Police is making protocols with the arrested people.
Tatchell was released but NOT Andy Thayer from GLN, Chicago.
No one else released.

One activist has already been sent to the Court to be judged.

Alexeyev ArrestedNikolai Alekseev arrested

UPDATE Sunday 12:30 (Moscow):

All activists detained by the police at yesterday’s Slavic Gay Pride have been released.

13:30:  Slovenia, the country which is currently chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (which Russia is a member of), is expressing concern over the violent break up of the Slavic Gay Pride parade in Moscow on Saturday, the Slovenia news agency STA is reporting.

Slovenia took over the chairmanship just five days ago.

More informations UK Gay News:

http://ukgaynews.org.uk/Moscow_Eurovision_Latest.htm

See Also:

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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