Moscow Gay Pride – London Protest

Russian Consulate picketed.

London – 2 March 2006

 

Demonstrators picketed the Russian consulate in London today (1 March), in protest at the ban on the Moscow Gay Pride parade by the Mayor of Moscow. They also condemned the threats of violence against the Pride marchers by Russian religious leaders.

Today’s London protest coincided with simultaneous protests in Paris, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw .

The protest in London was coordinated by the organisers of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), together with the gay human rights group OutRage! and the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association.

Other groups supporting the protest included the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement, Pride London and EuroPride, Amnesty International’s LGBT group, Gay.com, British Humanist Association, National Secular Society, Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group, Green Party, Gay Business Association, Gay to Z Directories, International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights, DELGA (Lib Dem LGBT group) and Red Promotions.

Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group, OutRage!, said:

“The Mayor of Moscow says he supports democracy. We ask him to prove it by giving the go ahead to Moscow Gay Pride. Democracy means respecting the rights of minorities.

“Who does Luzhkov think he is? Joseph Stalin? Someone should remind Yuri that the anti-gay Soviet Union is dead. Russia is a democracy and in a democracy people have a right to protest peacefully.

“These attempts by Russian state and religious leaders to suppress Moscow Gay Pride are a throwback to the bad old days of czarist and communist totalitarianism. No amount of threats and intimidation by the Mayor of Moscow, the Chief Mufti or the Chief Rabbi will stop the gay freedom struggle in Russia. The right to sexual self-determination and the right to protest are fundamental human rights that every democratic nation must respect,” added Mr Tatchell.

Protest coordinator, Derek Lennard, of the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association, who is the UK coordinator of the International Day Against Homophobia, said:

“The ban on Moscow Gay Pride is outrageous censorship. It is a violation of the Russian constitution. Regardless of the wishes of the Mayor of Moscow and bigoted religious leaders, Moscow Gay Pride will go ahead in May. If necessary, we will help the Russian gay movement challenge this ban in the courts.

“We extend our solidarity to Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Their struggle is our struggle,” said Mr Lennard.

The Moscow Gay Pride parade is scheduled to take place on 27 May, the anniversary of the 1993 abolition of Soviet era laws against male omosexuality.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has announced that the city government will not allow a Gay Pride parade “in any form” and that an attempt to march in the streets will be “resolutely quashed.”

The Mayor’s diktat follows statements by a Russian Muslim leader threatening violence if the planned Moscow Gay Pride parade goes ahead.

Chief Mufti of Russia’s Central Spiritual Governance for Muslims, Talgat Tajuddin, said: “Muslim protests can be even worse than these notorious rallies abroad over the scandalous cartoons.”

“The parade should not be allowed, and if they still come out into the streets, then they should be bashed. Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime against God,” he said.

Tajuddin called on Russian Orthodox Church members to join Muslims in mounting a violent response to Moscow Pride.

A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, which has since lobbied the Moscow Mayor to ban the parade, spoke out against Moscow Pride, telling media outlets that homosexuality is a “sin which destroys human beings and condemns them to a spiritual death.”

Not to be left out, Russian Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, said that if a gay pride was allowed to go ahead it would be “a blow for morality”. He stopped short of calling for violence, but warned that the Jewish community would not stand by silently. “Sexual perversions”, he said, did not have a right to exist. Lazar said that gay pride marches were “a provocation” similar to cartoon depictions of Mohammed.

Moscow Pride organisers, meanwhile, have said that attempts to prevent the march will be challenged with court action, if necessary all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

More Europe-wide vigils and marches are planned in the coming weeks to protest against attempts by the Moscow government and religious leaders to stop the Pride celebrations going ahead.

Russian gay and lesbian activists announced last July that they would apply for a permit to hold pride celebrations in Moscow in May this year. If it is granted, it would be the first Gay Pride parade ever held in the Russian capital.

Many well known gay rights campaigners from around the world will attend Moscow Gay Pride, including the British gay campaigners Michael Cashman MEP, Peter Tatchell of OutRage! and UK IDAHO co-ordinator Derek Lennard.

Other prominent planned attendees are the Deputy Mayor of Paris and several members of the European Parliament.

Over 250 representatives from more than 30 countries will participate in the simultaneous Moscow International Gay Festival from 25 to 27 May. This festival will feature a series of lectures by Merlin Holland, the grandson of Oscar Wilde, and a day of “Russian and Scandinavian homoculture”.

Moscow Pride is a week after the start of the Russian Presidency in the Council of Europe and just before the summit of G8 leaders in St Petersburg. President Putin has not commented on Pride or the threats of violence from religious leaders.

For photos of the demo, see:

www.outrage.org.uk/presspix/moscow1.jpg

www.outrage.org.uk/presspix/moscow2.jpg

www.outrage.org.uk/presspix/moscow3.jpg

www.outrage.org.uk/presspix/moscow4.jpg

www.outrage.org.uk/presspix/moscow5.jpg

www.outrage.org.uk/presspix/moscow6.jpg

The IDAHO-UK website is at: www.idaho-uk.org

The international IDAHO website is www.idahomophobia.org

For more information, email Derek Lennard at info@idaho-uk.org

For info about Manchester events, email manchester@idaho-uk.org