Thursday, May 17, 2007

Moscow Gay Activists Plan to March Despite Threats

The Moscow Times reported this week that gay activists in Moscow are planning to proceed with a human rights demonstration later this month despite the fact that city officials have declared their intention of preventing it.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov called gay rights parades "satanic" and emphatically stated in January that he would do everything in his power to stop it from taking place.

This city's top "law enforcement" officer, Nikolai Kulikov, said the parade would violate the rights of other citizens, reports the Moscow Times. But parade organizers say he hasn't officially banned it yet. They expect an official decision next week.

Nikolai Alexeyev, who heads Gay Russia, an LGBT rights organization, says the marchers will go forward with the demonstration despite the homophobic pronouncements of the city's leaders.

Moscow Times quoted him as saying: "It will be a human rights parade in support of homosexuals." Alexeyev expects 5,000 people, including international delegates, to march in the parade.

Parade organizers also applied to President Putin to authorize an event on state property near the Kremlin.

So far only one member of Russia's parliament, Liberal Democrat Alexey Mitrofanov, has stated that the human rights march should be permitted. Left-leaning politicians who view Mitrofanov's politics as conservative and nationalistic, have criticized Mitrofanov as opportunistic, but have failed to support the rights of LGBT people in Russia or to call for permitting the march.

A statement posted May 16th at, the website of Alexeyev's group, read in part: "This is a real gift for a discriminated and stigmatized minority like gays and lesbians in Russia whose political elite is totally homophobic."

The statement further encouraged participation in the march from people from diverse political groupings and promised to unite Russians in defense of human rights.

Read more about what happened in May 2006 at gay pride events in Moscow.