Current Affairs

Moscow gays want one million euros compensation for Pride ban

Tony Grew February 20, 2008
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The ban placed on the organisation of a gay Pride march in Moscow in 2007 was a breach of human rights, the organisers have said in a letter to the European Court of Human Rights.

They are asking the court to rule on the ban and want one million euros compensation.

The legal action against the Russian authorities is the second brought by Moscow Pride organisers, who are also asking for a ruling on the 2006 Pride march ban.

“I am absolutely certain of our final victory in Strasburg,” Pride organiser Nicolas Alexeyev told Interfax.

“The Russian authorities arbitrarily deprived us of the right guaranteed by both the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

In December Moscow City Court confirmed the decision of a local district court, which had upheld the city government’s decision to ban the march.

Moscow Pride 2007, the second proposed LGBT event in two years to be held in the Russian capital, was scheduled for May 27th.

Moscow authorities said that their decision was in line with Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, since it states that the right to freedom of assembly can be limited in the interests of public order, to avoid disturbances, for the protection of health and morality.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said that in his view a gay parade could only be seen as a “Satanic gathering.”

In October, the same Russian court rejected an appeal from Pride organisers about the mayor’s statement, saying that the term “Satanic gathering” was referred only to the event and not to its organisers or other LGBT people.

Pride activist Nicolas Alexeyev expressed distrust of the three judge panel appointed for the appeal, two of whom had earlier already dismissed similar appeals.

Pride’s lawyer wants the European court to consider both legal actions together.

It is thought to be the first time that a member country of the Council of Europe has had two cases of banning gay rights marches brought before the court at the same time.

After last year’s Moscow Pride was banned by city authorities gay rights activists attempted to protest on that day, May 29th, by handing a letter of protest in to the Mayor’s office.

They were attacked by nationalist counter-protesters and arrested by police.

Mr Alexeyev said if Pride activists won their case the compensation money would be used to develop the LGBT movement in Russia.

Activists plan to try to stage another gay Pride march on May 27th this year.

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