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Moscow Gay Pride: ‘Let It Be’ Chanted Activists in Geneva Demo
UK Gay News
( photo: GayRussia.ru)
GENEVA, April 3, 2006 – More than 100 activists from 35 different countries took part in a peaceful demonstration in front of the Russian diplomatic mission to the United Nations.
They were protesting the intention of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to forbid the first gay and lesbian pride in his city as well as the homophobic statements made by religious leaders and public figures.
The protest was unanimously backed by the plenary session of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) conference which was being held in Geneva over the weekend.
Earlier, Kursad Karamanoglu, the co-secretary general of ILGA, appealed for mass support for Russian gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transexuals.
Protesters carried posters saying “Putin, say yes to Moscow Pride!”, “Putin, make homophobia history!”, “Luzhkov = Kaczinsky?”, “Moscow pride! Let it be”, “There are enough walls!” and “On May 17, Putin should say yes to pride”.
Russian diplomats leaving the mission by cars were stopping to read the appeals on the placards.
The protest against the planned ban of the Gay Pride in Moscow united not only usual activists, but also known figures in the world gay community. Jackie Lewis, Louis-George Tin, one of deputies of the Japanese parliament, Scott Long of Human Rights Watch, members of board ILGA-Europe Pierre Serne and Kurt Krikler, and also the editor-in-chief of Spartacus gay guide Briand Bedford.
Also protesting were Rosanna Flammers-Caldera, co-secretary of ILGA, and Philip Braun, newly elected co-secretary of ILGA.
During the protest, one of the organizers of the Moscow gay festival, Nikolay Alekseev thanked all participants in a short speech.
“Homophobia will not stop us on the way to our purpose of achievement of equality for all. We shall not surrender to homophobes,” he said.
“Our joint action has shown to everything, that we do not admit infringement of constitutional laws and the European convention on human rights.”
The protest took place days after the Council of Europe published a letter sent by Giovanni di Stasi, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council, to the Mayor of Moscow reminding him about the articles of the European Convention of which Russia is a signatory and asking him to allow the Gay Pride to go ahead in Moscow.
It was the biggest mass public condemnation of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. On March 2, protests against his intention to forbid the Moscow Gay Pride were staged in five European capitals – Paris, London, Warsaw, Stockholm and Vienna.
The protest, organised by ILGA, the IDAHO Committee (International Day Against Homophobia), and the Geneva based lesbian organization Lestime, nearly didn’t happen.
Despite the fact that the request to hold the protest was submitted according to the rules of the local authorities, when the demonstrators arrived in front of the mission, the anti-riot police stopped them explaining that the protest was not authorized by the local authorities.
Referring to judicial precedent in Switzerland – when the police illegally forbade a protest in front of the US embassy against the war in Iraq –Karamoglu and Catherine Gaillard, the representative of Lestime, convinced the police not to interfere with the peaceful protest.
European official protests Moscow Pride ban