Current Affairs

Homophobic mayor faces lawsuit and London protest

Christopher Hayes February 26, 2007
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The organisers of Moscow’s gay pride parade are suing Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor that banned the event last year, for likening the parade to a “satanic act.”

Organisers of the parade, led by Nicholas Alexeyev, are calling on Luzhkov to retract his comments, DPA news has reported.

“Both in the secular and religious context, the term ‘satanic’ is offensive and carries a negative colouring,” Alexeyev said.

The lawsuit was filed at Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court following a complaint lodged to the European Court of Human Rights.

In addition to demanding a retraction, parade organisers are also seeking 1,000 roubles (£19) each in compensation for moral damage.

Later this week Mayor Luzhkov is in London to meet with the Mayors of Paris, Berlin and London for annual discussions on the future of Europe’s four largest cities.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London and an advocate for gay-rights, has previously voiced his opposition to Luzhkov’s decision to ban the Moscow parade:

“I strongly oppose Moscow banning gay rights marches in the city. It is the right of gays and lesbians to demonstrate peacefully and this should be upheld by Moscow,” he said.

“London has set a clear line against hate crime and welcomes lesbians and gay men and values the important contribution they make to our city. Moscow should show respect to all its citizens and allow gay and lesbian citizens to stage what is clearly a purely peaceful event,” he added.

Moscow Pride organiser Nikolai Alexeyev will be joining gay pressure group OutRage! in London to organise protest against Luzhkov.

“The organisers of Moscow Gay Pride appeal to our friends in London to join Wednesday’s protest at City Hall against the homophobic Mayor of Moscow, to show him that homophobes are not tolerated in Britain,” Mr Alexeyev said.

“Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov routinely breaches Russia’s constitution and laws, and the European Convention, by depriving gay people of their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” he added.

Luzhkov’s ‘satanic’ remarks were made at a festival in late January when he was reported to have said:

“We have not allowed this parade and we will not allow it.

“It’s impossible to call it anything other than a satanic act,” he added.

The Moscow mayor has also been known to publicly condemn homosexuality more broadly.

In May 2006 the human rights group, Human Rights Watch included him in a homophobic ‘hall of shame’.

Moscow’s inaugural gay pride parade was organised for May 27th 2006. Luzhkov banned the event on the grounds that it would cause violent protests.

As reported last year campaigners from all over the world converged in the Russian capital.

They were met by religious and nationalist protesters chanting anti gay slogans and 1000 riot police aiming to stop demonstrations in the Red Square.

Over 120 people including a German MP were arrested and eyewitnesses at the time said

gay activists were beaten by protesters.

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