TV & Radio
Representatives of gay community are adamant in holding gay parade in Moscow but keep its route a secret
Moscow, May 25, Interfax - The leader of GayRussia.ru and an organizer of the Moscow gay parade Nikolay Alexeyev confirmed sex minorities’ intention to hold an unapproved march in the Russian capital on May 27.
‘We are definitely planning our gay parade. It will be held in the afternoon, though we have not decided where and in what form’, Alexeyev told Interfax and promised ‘to keep the journalists posted.’
Answering a question whether the gay parade participants are afraid of attacks by the opponents of the action, he said that his supporters were not worried about threats.
‘The parade’s opponents can come out where they like, but we shall not go along the route we indicated in our application because we understand only too well that they will gather there trying to do something against us,’ Alexeyev said.
Russian gays fear what awaits outside the closet
Thu May 25, 2006 12:53 PM IST
By Oliver Bullough
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gay rights activists will ignore an official ban on a march through Moscow this week despite warnings from some within their community that it will only serve to whip up prejudice in widely homophobic Russia.
Nikolai Alexeyev, organiser of the gay festival that will culminate in Saturday's march, said it would show Russians the homosexual community is not a threat to society.
But in a culture where church leaders lump homosexuality together with murder and violence, and where skinheads try to storm gay clubs, other gays said they preferred the quiet life.
"I think the time has come to go out and say we want equal rights. We are paying our taxes just like all citizens," said Alexeyev, 28.
The Moscow city government has banned the march, calling it an "outrage to society" and right-wing extremists have promised to attack marchers.
But Alexeyev said it would go ahead anyway.
"The main issue is the fight against homophobia and discrimination. We are asking the authorities to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," he said.
Two of the commonest Russian words for gay men -- pederast and homosexualist -- suggest they either abuse children or are suffering from a medical condition, and Alexeyev said he was trying to alter this mindset.
But other activists criticised his tactics, saying that making a display of their sexuality risked undermining the gains made since homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993.
Lyubov Sliska, a senior member of the Kremlin's United Russia party and deputy speaker of parliament, was just one prominent member of the establishment to oppose the march.
"Some people say a ban on the gay-parade would not accord with human rights," she told Russian reporters. "Several million people living in Moscow do not want these homosexualists to hold an action. Who defends their rights?"
Much time must pass before such an attitude changes into one of acceptance, said Ed Mishin, 33, founder of Queer magazine, the www.gayrussia.ru site and a shop of gay-linked merchandise.
"We should not shout from the television screens. I am a supporter of the quiet revolution," he said, saying publicity was provoking homophobes like those who forced police to evacuate Moscow's Three Monkeys gay club at the end of April.
"This has produced no uniting of gays, and homophobia has risen. Now the authorities are negative to any gay organisation," he said.
He said the fact that skinhead groups who have previously targeted foreigners were now planning attacks on gay clubs was a sign that the march had backfired.
Alexeyev disagreed. He said he had forced gay issues onto the news agenda while Mishin merely worried about his business.
In a discussion of gay rights on the state-controlled NTV channel last week, he sparred with an Orthodox priest who said southeast Asia was hit by the tsunami and New Orleans was flooded because they tolerated gays.
"Why do you want the destruction of your people," the priest shouted, predicting a Biblical-style catastrophe if the march went ahead, to loud applause from the studio audience.
Alexeyev said such publicity was useful, and would get Russians used to the fact that gays were living among them.
"People will see that the sky does not fall, that there will be no flooding of Moscow, and people will ask why these people can't have the same rights as all the others," he said.