Current Affairs

Moscow Pride banned as protesters say they will march anyway

Jessica Geen May 21, 2010
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Moscow city hall has banned a Pride parade for the fifth year running.

Gay rights activists applied for permission to hold a march on May 29th but officials turned it down, citing reasons of security.

Organiser Nikolai Alexeyev told that the decision was “purely political” and had nothing to do with safety.

He said he saw no reason why activists would not hold a march anyway.

Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov has consistently refused permission for the march and has called gays and lesbians”satanic” in the past.

Despite five years of bans, marches have been held anyway and some have ended in violence.

In May 2006, more than 120 people were arrested and in 2007, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell were severely beaten by neo-Nazis. Last year, marchers accused police of brutality.

Activists applied on May 17th for permission to hold the event on a street in central Moscow. An appeal will be heard today but Mr Alexeyev said he expected it to be rejected.

He said: “The reasons are absolutely the same as previous years – security reasons. That it will endanger participants and passersby.

“It’s nothing to do with security. I have talked to the police and they say it would be no problem to provide security.

“There will be no anti-gay protesters if the protest is protected by police. They are scared of the police. There will not be direct clashes unlike in Vilnius and Riga.

“This is the decision of the mayor. . . it is purely a political decision.”

Mr Alexeyev said that if permission was denied, campaigners would still march as they have done in recent years.

He said: “Yes. I don’t see any reason why we won’t do it this year.”

He added that activists had appealed to the European Court of Human Rights over the repeated bans and hoped to receive a decision on the case this year.

When asked whether he believed public opinion was starting to turn in favour of gay rights, he said that unlike previous years, no organised protests had yet been made against the parade.

Last year’s march caught worldwide attention as it was held while Moscow hosted the Eurovision Song Contest final.

Under the scrutiny of the world’s media, marchers escaped serious injury but were roughly arrested and fined.

They have unsuccessfully tried to have the mayor prosecuted under Article 149 of the Russian Criminal Code for using his political power to prevent legal public events for the LGBT community in the city.

Mr Luzhkov said in December: “For several years, Moscow has experienced unprecedented pressure to conduct a gay pride parade, which cannot be called anything but a Satanic act.

“We have prevented such a parade and we will not allow it in the future. Everyone needs to accept that as an axiom.”

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