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Moscow Gay Pride - Mayor of London issues statement
London Mayor Ken Livingstone today said:
'The Russian people suffered greater casualties than any other country from Nazism - whose targets were not only Jews and Soviet citizens but also homosexuals. To see open fascists parading in Moscow, and assaulting gay and lesbian people, is to trample on the memory of all those who fought against Nazism and particularly the 27 million Soviet citizens who died in the fight against fascism.
'The support given by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Grand Mufti, and the Chief Rabbi to a ban on a peaceful gay pride march is reactionary and the Mayor of Moscow should uphold the right of gay men and lesbians to demonstrate peacefully.
'I strongly oppose the positions of both the Mayor of Moscow and the former Mayor of Warsaw, now the president of Poland, in banning gay rights marches and the support to this given by a number of religious authorities. I strongly endorse the European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2006 calling on all to "firmly to condemn and oppose homophobic hate speech or incitement to hatred and violence" and to treat lesbian and gay people with "respect, dignity and protection".'
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Mayor welcomes EuroPride 06
上記の要約 (at HODGE's PARROT)
London Mayor criticises Moscow Gay Pride violence
The Mayor of London has condemned the violence and religious and nationalist protests that marred gay pride celebrations in Moscow last weekend.
Gay activists who chose to defy a gay pride ban in the Russian capital were met with violence from religious and nationalist protesters chanting anti gay slogans and 1000 riot police aiming to stop demonstrations in the Red Square.
Ken Livingstone said: 'The Russian people suffered greater casualties than any other country from Nazism - whose targets were not only Jews and Soviet citizens but also homosexuals. To see open fascists and Nazis parading in Moscow, and assaulting gay and lesbian people, is to trample on the memory of all those who fought against Nazism and particularly the 27 million Soviet citizens who died in the fight against fascism.
“The support given by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Grand Mufti, and the Chief Rabbi to a ban on a peaceful gay pride march is reactionary and the Mayor of Moscow should uphold the right of gays and lesbians to demonstrate peacefully.
“I strongly oppose the positions of both the Mayor of Moscow and the former Mayor of Warsaw, now the president of Poland, in banning gay rights marches and the support to this given by a number of religious authorities. I strongly endorse the European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2006 calling on all to "firmly to condemn and oppose homophobic hate speech or incitement to hatred and violence" and to treat lesbian and gay people with "respect, dignity and protection.”
The Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov banned the gay parade claiming it would protect gays and lesbians from potential violent protests
A statement from the Mayor‘s office said: “This march could provoke a wave of protests which could lead to mass breaches of public order and disturbances, therefore the application for the march has not been successful.”
Shameful violence at Moscow's Pride
Tuesday 30 May, 2006 11:43
Moscow’s first ever gay pride parade on Saturday May 27th was marred by rampant homophobic violence. The march was timed to coincide with the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia.
What should have been a celebration, descended into chaos as skinheads and militant Orthodox Christians attacked gay and lesbian marchers. Organisers had tried to keep the route secret after the march was banned by the authorities in Moscow, who called Saturday's parade "an outrage".
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov was unapologetically frank when he explained why he banned the parade. Such events “may be acceptable for some, in some sense, progressive countries in the West, but not for Russia”.
Peter Tatchell of Outrage was in Moscow for the event and witnessed the shocking events:
"The Mayor of Moscow said gay pride would never happen while he was alive. He mobilised a quarter of the Moscow police, over 1,000 officers, to prevent the gay parade. Despite all his efforts, lesbian and gay Russians - and their international supporters - gathered by the Kremlin in Manezhnaya Square."
Observers of the events which unfolded last Saturday, claim the police stood by as thugs attacked gay activists. Some of the worst scenes unfolded as they attempted to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside the Kremlin wall.
On orders from the mayor, police closed the entrance to the garden where the tomb is located. Tthe first half-dozen activists who arrived carrying flowers were set upon by about 100 religious and nationalist extremists who kicked and punched them.
“Moscow is not Sodom!” they shouted. Women wearing orthodox headscarves held up religious icons while men in Cossack white sheepskin hats and black-and-red tunics looked on. “This is a perverts’ parade,” said one protester holding an icon of the Madonna. “This is filth, forbidden by God. We have to cleanse the world of this filth,” said one of the women in the crowd.
Merlin Holland the heterosexual grandson of Oscar Wilde, who has long been a supporter of homosexual rights in Russia, was also beaten up.
28-year-old Nikolai Alexeyev, leader of the gay and lesbian activists, was dragged from the gates of the monument, and detained by police.
“We are conducting a peaceful protest. We want to show that we have the same rights as other citizens,” Alexeyev had told a news conference a few hours before the rally started.
But the mayor said last Friday the pride march would never take place, at least not as long as he held office, and a local court upheld the ban.
Peter Tatchell commented on the weekend's dramas: "This first Moscow Pride took place, but not as we had planned it - thanks to the combined opposition of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and the neo-Nazis. The Mayor's homophobia created the atmosphere which gave a green light to the fascists to attack the Moscow Pride participants.
"The repression of a handful of lesbian and gay protestors signifies the fear and weakness of the Russian state, said Tatchell in a statement to the press.
"We had a moral and political victory, forcing the Moscow authorities to unleash forces of repression comparable with the bad old days of the Soviet era."
London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone has also condemned the violence in Moscow last weekend.
Livingstone said: 'The Russian people suffered greater casualties than any other country from Nazism - whose targets were not only Jews and Soviet citizens but also homosexuals.
"To see open fascists and Nazis parading in Moscow, and assaulting gay and lesbian people, is to trample on the memory of all those who fought against Nazism and particularly the 27 million Soviet citizens who died in the fight against fascism."
Sexual minorities plan to hold annual gay rallies in Moscow
Moscow, May 30, Interfax - Sexual minorities plan to hold another gay rally in Moscow next year and to make it an annual event in the future, Nikolay Alexeyev, leader of the GayRussia.Ru project told Interfax on Tuesday.
‘The 27th of May has been for us so far an anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1993 in Russia. But the gay parade in 2006 in Moscow and the situation in which it was held has given much more weight to this date’, the agency’s interlocutor said.
Thus he said people of non-traditional sexual orientation plan ‘to raise rainbow flags over Moscow again’ on May 27, 2007, as symbols of gay community.
The next year Alexeyev reported will be used by Russian gays and lesbians to challenge in courts of various instances up to the Strasbourg one the ban imposed on the ‘queer march’ in Moscow. To this end, they intend to hire lawyers from abroad, including the well-known London-based gay Professor Robert Wintmute who is said to succeed in a great deal of cases on behalf of sexual minorities.
Alexeyev said he does not regard non-traditional sexual orientation as deviation from norm. ‘Homosexuality is the same norm as heterosexuality, and it is only pseudo-doctors who disagree with it’, he noted.
The organizer of the gay rally also expressed disagreement with those who see in such actions an insult to public morality. ‘It is absolutely all the same to me what the patriarch and all this followers think about it. He can preach it in his church. We are a secular state, and I live according to the law of a secular state, not according to the Bible’, he stressed.
He said ‘even if 99% of the Russians are against gay parades, it does not matter at all, as there is a minority whose rights are to be respected just as the rights of the rest’.
German Stance on Moscow Gay Crackdown Under Debate
DW staff (sp) | www.dw-world.de | © Deutsche Welle.
German Stance on Moscow Gay Crackdown Under Debate
Images of Beck's bloodied face have sparked strong reaction in Germany
Volker Beck, a gay German parliamentarian who was injured when he participated in Russia's first-ever gay rights rally over the weekend, has sparked debate in Germany about to deal with Russia.
Volker Beck, a leader of the German Green party and a prominent gay rights activist, had traveled to Russia to show his support for the country’s gay rights movement. The parade to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia took place on Saturday even though authorities had banned the march.
The gay activists, led by 28-year-old Nikolai Alexeyev, had planned to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier -- a symbol of the World War II struggle against fascism, and one of Russia's most sacred places. But they were soon surrounded by dozens of militant Orthodox Christians and skinheads who chanted anti-gay slogans and tried to break up the gathering.
In the ensuing scuffles, Beck was punched in the face and slightly injured.
"I was attacked," Beck told German television. "It was a stone and a fist. It shows we're not safe in this country. The security forces did not protect us but instead prevented us from retreating. We were left without any protection."
Following the confusion, the German politician was detained and only released after authorities recognized his parliamentary credentials.
Moscow events spark heated debate in Germany
Pictures of a bloodied Beck surrounded by Moscow police have triggered strong reactions in Germany.
Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Homosexuals are far from accepted in Russia
Andreas Schockenhoff, Russia expert of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has accused Beck of violating the "rules of the game" in Russia, saying that one had to obey the political norms of the host country and that Beck was only seeking to profile himself by participating in the demonstration.
The attack is "naturally outrageous," said Schockenhoff in a newspaper interview. But by taking part in a banned demonstration, Beck had "irresponsibly and willing put himself in danger," Schockenhoff added.
Schockenhoff's comments have sparked anger among Germany's Greens as well as members of the CDU.
"If one is attacked by another person, then he's not to blame," Jürgen Rüttgers, the conservative premier of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia told news channel N24. What happened in Moscow "isn't worthy of a democracy," Rüttgers added.
Ruprecht Polenz, another member of the CDU, also slammed the bloody turn of events in Moscow. "In Russia too, peaceful demonstrations, even if they're banned, have to be protected by the state from attacks," Polenz told Spiegel Online.
Germany urged to take tougher line
Others have urged the German government to lodge a strongly-worded protest in Moscow.
"It can't be that a state assumes that such matters are decided by the rule of force," Arnold Vaatz, another CDU member said, adding that Berlin had to complain.
Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Neo-fascism is a growing problem in Russia
Volker Beck this week urged the German government to do more internationally to champion the rights of homosexuals. Beck pointed out that another gay-rights parade planned in Warsaw on June 10 had been banned. It's a bit "annoying" that the German government "wasn't really interested" about the repression of homosexuals in Russia, Beck added.
In Paris, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe "condemned in the strongest terms the unacceptable incidents which disturbed the gay pride march in Moscow." Delanoe called them "grave attacks on respect for human rights and for individual identity, contrary to the basic principles of a democratic nation."
Clementine Autain, one of Delanoe's aides said: "At the moment when Russia is taking over the presidency of the Council of Europe we are concerned because the Russian authorities haven't shown the will to respect human rights, in particular the rights of minorities and freedom of expression."
Homophobia part of a bigger problem in Russia?
Others, however, have pointed out that homophobia is a deeply-entrenched problem in Russia.
"Homophobia is part of the larger problem of xenophobia" in Russia today, Nikolai Alekseyev, the organizer of the protest, said at a news conference. "This country defeated fascism and today it is again on the rise," he said.
Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Public displays of affection among gay couples are taboo in Russia
Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzkhov had warned that the event would "provoke outrage in society“ because homosexuality is not natural. He also claimed that 99 percent of the people in Moscow were supportive of the ban.
Homosexuality was considered a crime in Russia until 1993, and a mental illness up to 1999. Even today same-sex couples almost never make a public display of their affection. According to activists, discrimination is still a major problem in Russian society, with gays and lesbians facing widespread public intolerance.
DW staff (sp)
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Satirized Anthem Spreads in Japan
By Kim Rahn
Japanese protesting their national anthem are satirizing the song by secretly turning its lyrics into English words, according to a Japanese newspaper.
The Sankei Shimbun reported on Monday that the satirical song has been spread as a new sabotage weapon of protest among groups that object to hanging the national flag or singing the national anthem, the Kimigayo.
The English parody of the anthem, titled ``Kiss Me,’’ takes the syllables of each word of the Japanese original and turns them into phonetically similar English words.
Due to the phonetic similarity, it is hard to detect whether a person is singing the original Kimigayo or the parody. Many teachers and students, who think the anthem arouses nationalism and militarism, sing the latter one at school entrance or graduation ceremonies, the newspaper said.
For example, the first verse of the national anthem ``Kimigayo wa’’ becomes ``Kiss me girl, your old one,’’ in reference to ``comfort women’’ _ women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II.
The original anthem wishes Japanese Emperor a thousand years’ of happy reign. But the satirized version implies that a girl who met a former comfort woman sympathizes with the woman and wants the truth revealed.
The lyrics are ``Kiss me girl, your old one. Till you’re near, it is years till you’re near. Sounds of the dead will she know? She wants all told, now retained, for cold caves know the moon’s seeing the mad and dead.’’
The writer of the song remains unknown.
The Kimigayo was scrapped in 1945 after Japan was defeated in World War II. But in 1999, the Japanese government again recognized the national anthem and national flag, obliging teachers and students to hoist the national flag and sing the Kimigayo during school events such as entrance ceremonies.
Hundreds of teachers have been punished for refusing to follow the order.
Since the law was legislated, many parody anthems have been made and ``Kiss Me’’ has spread through the Internet since school graduation season in February, the newspaper reported.
A Web site of a group opposing the obligatory anthem said the song is the masterpiece of Kimigayo parodies, adding it is a small pillar of protest in the hearts of people who are forced to sing the anthem.
Japan's rebels sing out with English parody of anthem
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Tuesday May 30, 2006
Japanese who object to being forced to sing their country's national anthem have a secret weapon: the English language. Kiss Me, an English parody of the Kimigayo, has spread through the internet and was sung by teachers and pupils at recent school entrance and graduation ceremonies, local media reported yesterday.
The song, whose composer remains a mystery, takes the syllables of each word of the Japanese original and turns them into phonetically similar English words, allowing non-conformist singers to escape detection. For example, "Kimigayo wa" becomes "Kiss me girl, your old one".
Weeks after a British music producer caused uproar in the US with a Spanish version of the Star-Spangled Banner, the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun denounced the new song as an attempt to "sabotage" Japan's traditional anthem.
Leftwing teachers unions regard Kimigayo, which is based on an ancient poem wishing the emperor a "thousand years of happy reign", as a symbol of Japan's militarist past. The controversial anthem was not legally recognised until 1999, and in 2003 the Tokyo metropolitan government, led by the rightwing governor Shintaro Ishihara, ordered teachers to stand and sing it at school ceremonies. Hundreds of teachers have been punished for refusing to follow the order.
The English lyrics have a serious political twist: they apparently refer to the tens of thousands of Asian "comfort women" who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during the second world war.
A website run by a group opposing the anthem said it hoped the parody would "become a small pillar of opposition in people's hearts".
A member of another anti-Kimigayo group in Tokyo said she had "absolutely no idea" who was behind the song. "It's certainly nothing to do with us," she said.
Foes give 'Kimigayo' sarcastic spin
By AKEMI NAKAMURA
The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 30, 2006
A citizens' group opposed to the government's adoption of the Hinomaru as the national flag and "Kimigayo" as the anthem has posted two sarcastic alternatives in awkward English of the song on its Web site, ruffling the feathers of officials and conservative lawmakers.
The group "hopes the lyrics can become a small pillar for those who do not want to sing the song but are forced to sing it" at school ceremonies, the Web site says.
On Monday, the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun slammed the renditions as an attempt to subvert the national anthem.
The government officially adopted "Kimigayo" and the rising sun flag in 1999, despite widespread concern it would rekindle feelings of militarism. The song, unofficially titled "His Majesty's Reign," is based on an ancient poem that wishes long life for the Emperor.
Although the rhymes in the alternatives resemble the Japanese original, the content is completely different.
The English renditions are titled "Kiss Me" and "Kiss Me Girl" and urge people to remember Japan's wartime aggression, including the Nanjing Massacre and the "comfort women" -- those forced into sexual slavery for the Imperial Japanese Army.
The lyrics to one of the alternatives go:
Kiss me, girl, your old one.
Till you're near, it is years till you're near.
Sounds of the dead will she know?
She wants all told, now retained,
For cold caves know the moon's seeing the mad and dead.
No author was identified.
The Tokyo metropolitan board of education ordered public teachers and their students to sing "Kimigayo" at graduation and entrance ceremonies starting in October 2003 and punished more than 300 teachers who refused.
According to education ministry guidelines, schools must display the Hinomaru and have teachers and students sing the national anthem.
Government officials said they are unsure whether the sarcastic spinoffs are growing in popularity and urged people to stick to the original.
"(People) should sing the words to 'Kimigayo' that are approved by law," one ministry official said.
Despite the lyrics, Toru Kondo, a teacher of English at Kasai Minami High School in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, who refuses to sing "Kimigayo," said he will shun the alternatives because the melody is the same as the original.
"I don't like the song ("Kimigayo") in its entirety -- both lyrics and melody, considering its link to Japan's wartime militarism, as well as the board of education's use of coercion to make teachers and students sing it at school ceremonies," he said.
Takashi Narushima, an education law professor at Niigata University, said it is only natural to parody "Kimigayo" when authorities are cramming it down the throats of teachers and students.
"It's passive resistance," he said. "People can decide to sing 'Kimigayo' or a parody or refuse to sing it."
Seishiro Sugihara, an education professor at Musashino University in Tokyo, meanwhile said the national anthem should be respected.
Japan: Parody of anthem heats up nationalist debate - Financial Times
St. Petersburg Times 2006/05/30
Gay March Marred by Violent Protestors
By Anastasiya Lebedev
MOSCOW — Activists attempting to hold Moscow’s first-ever gay rights march Saturday were overwhelmed by militant Orthodox Christians and ultranationalists throwing smoke bombs.
A handful of activists were injured, including a German lawmaker. The Bundestag member, his face streaked with blood, was detained by police.
Pedestrian movement was blocked for a few hours as riot police cordoned off a square around a monument to Prince Yury Dolgoruky. And traffic was briefly stopped when smoke bombs — resembling flares and emitting large plumes of smoke — were thrown at the intersection across the street, across from the Kremlin.
More than 100 gay rights activists and some of their most vocal foes were arrested by police. Mayor Yury Luzhkov had banned the parade, and on Friday a city court upheld the ban.
Among the first to be arrested were Nikolai Alexeyev, the march’s chief organizer, and Philippe Lasnier, an aide to the mayor of Paris. Alexeyev spent the day in custody; Lasnier was briefly detained.
Alexeyev said Sunday that the event had been a great success, despite the low turnout. “A hundred people were not afraid to go out and protest homophobia and fascism,” he said.
One French observer at Saturday’s event said police had detained the German lawmaker, Green Party member Volker Beck, to prevent him from being further pummeled.
Several hundred ultranationalists descended on central Moscow to protest the march. Some of them wore camouflage. Others sported facemasks or hid their faces in their shirt collars.
Organizers had hoped the parade would be the capstone of a two-day conference bringing together gays and lesbians from Russia, Europe and the United States.
The conference, called Moscow Pride ‘06, was described as disorganized by gay web sites not affiliated with the event, which included a lecture given by Merlin Holland, grandson of Oscar Wilde.
The British author, widely known to have been gay, was convicted of gross indecency in 1895 and sentenced to two years of hard labor.
Organizers of Saturday’s march had called for gays and lesbians to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and then gather at the monument to Prince Yury Dolgoruky, which faces City Hall, to picket the ban. The time and place of the march were announced just hours before the event.
But police blocked the entrance to the Alexander Gardens, where the tomb is located.
When the marchers arrived at the gated entranceway to the garden, they were met by women holding icons and wearing long skirts and headscarves. A small group of men in Cossack dress was on hand to protest the march, among others.
As the activists laid their flowers at the gate, protesters stomped on them and threw eggs and tomatoes at the activists. And as the protesters’ chants — “Death to fags!” and “Fags out of Russia!” — grew louder, and as the tenor of the confrontation grew uglier, OMON riot police formed a chain to pry the crowd away from the gate.
The icon-bearing women added to the chorus, chanting “Moscow is not Sodom.” Many sang psalms, mostly from the traditional Easter service.
One woman protesting the march accused police officers who were attempting to contain the mob of siding with homosexuals, prompting one officer to point to the cross around his neck.
Conference participants, most of them foreigners, observed the goings-on with concern and confusion.
A couple stood under rainbow-colored umbrellas. The six-color rainbow is an international gay and lesbian symbol that apparently was not recognized by protesters, who did not attack people holding the umbrellas.
After the confrontation at the entrance to the Alexander Gardens, some parade organizers began moving toward the monument. The parade’s protesters walked in that direction, too.
The steps of the monument had been occupied by a large swarm of ultranationalists, including Alexander Belov, head of the Movement Against Illegal Immigrants, and Konstantin Krylov, head of the Russian Public Movement.
State Duma Deputy Nikolai Kuryanovich, of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party, in a speech at the foot of the monument lashed out at the “gay mafia” for promoting ideals he called suited for “rotting America and dying Europe.”
Kuryanovich also recalled that homosexuality was once a crime in Russia and defended the neo-Nazi salute. He then led the crowd in a chant of “Gays and lesbians to Kolyma,” the notorious Soviet-era labor camp.
Riot police tried to block more people from gathering near the monument but did not make an attempt to interrupt Kuryanovich’s speech.
Kuryanovich’s web site offers condolences to the family and friends of Dmitry Borovikov, a founder of a violent extremist group killed by police in St. Petersburg earlier this month while resisting arrest.
A few gay rights activists eventually arrived at the monument but were unable to hold their rally.
Yevgenia Debryanskaya, a leader of the lesbian rights movement in Russia since the 1990s, tried to give a speech but was doused with water as protesters laughed at her. She was dragged away by police.
Alexeyev said participation would have been greater if the event had been permitted by authorities.
Organizers did not want to put a large number of people at risk by inviting them to take part, Alexeyev said, so no notices were posted on gay-themed web sites and no mass mailings were conducted.
St. Petersburg Times 2006/05/30
"Normal" Russians Seek Prey
By Anastasiya Lebedev
MOSCOW — One of the victims of the violence that broke out at Saturday’s aborted gay rights march had the misfortune of simply being the wrong color.
While walking down Tverskaya Ulitsa with a female companion, the dark-skinned man, who did not give his name, was attacked by ultranationalists looking for prey.
As he was overtaken by some of the mob, the man was knocked to the ground and punched and kicked. The young woman, a Russian, tried to shield him with her body.
An onlooker tried to tear away one of the attackers, and five or six of the assailants fled just before police officers arrived, ushering the man and woman, both in their twenties, into a squad car. None of the thugs who had attacked the man were detained.
What became clear at the march Saturday was that the ultranationalists, Orthodox Church protesters and other opponents of gay rights were not only fighting gay rights — they were protesting anything they deemed un-Russian. Whether it was South Asians or Westerners or anyone who collided with their nostalgia for a closed, imperial Russia, everyone on “the outside” was a potential target.
One young man who only gave his first name, Alexei, happily admitted that he had taken part in the beating of a German lawmaker, Volker Beck.
“I punched him in the face myself because I’m a normal Russian guy,” Alexei said, grinning.
Using a widespread Russian expression, Alexei said he and others came to protest the march to “combine the pleasant things with the useful things” — hanging out with his friends while physically beating people he considers perverts.
Kirill Frolov, head of the Moscow chapter of the Orthodox Citizens’ Union, passed out flyers to passersby saying that European officials involved in the march were seeking to instigate an Orange Revolution-style overthrow of the government in Russia. The flyers also said that the bird flu sweeping the globe was God’s punishment for homosexuality.
Frolov added that the union had worked closely with law enforcement agencies.
Alexei Gozhgo, 19, marched with the Cossacks, who, he said, came from the Tula region. He said he opposed gays and lesbians because they would not do anything to boost Russia’s shrinking population.
Not far away, on Tverskaya Ulitsa, two women holding hands voiced support for the display of gay solidarity.
“This is a necessary and effective action,” one of the women, Yekaterina Shavyrina, said. “We’re also a part of society.”
Russia insufficiently tolerant of gays, lesbians - campaigner
Moscow, May 29, Interfax - The Russian public is insufficiently tolerant of gays and lesbians, Moscow Human Rights Bureau Director Alexander Brod told Interfax on Monday.
The bureau is monitoring xenophobia in Russia with European Union support.
"Research shows that about one-third of Russians feel negatively toward those with non-traditional sexual orientations. This is a sign of high intolerance," he said.
"We see that Russia is still far from being tolerant. This is deplorable and incompatible with the principles of a civilized state," he said.
Bearing in mind public feelings, the action in Moscow on Saturday should not have been held, Brod said.
Unauthorized actions by supporters and opponents of a gay pride parade were held in downtown Moscow on Saturday. Over 100 people were detained.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006. Page 11.
Whether for or Against the Cops Must Protect
By Ella Paneyakh
Saturday's gay parade was bound to draw attention. It occurred in a country where a citizen arriving from the provinces in his own capital has about the same rights as an illegal alien in most of Europe, attempts to draw attention to the problem of domestic violence sound like some kind of Western exotica and torture by the police is routine. The fact that people here are less than respectful of gay rights shouldn't come as a surprise.
But the authorities did all they could to turn this exotic, but completely innocent, procession into an embarrassment. First, they prohibited the event on the grounds of complaints from the public and concern that there would be a major disturbance. Nobody bothered to point out that preventing disturbances is the police's job and that potential troublemakers shouldn't stand in the way of a citizen's right to protest.
The activists, deciding to hold the event anyways, were met by Orthodox Christian fundamentalists and other radicals. In principle, there shouldn't be any problem here. Under normal civil society conditions, among the different minorities are those who believe the function of other people's sexual organs falls within their sphere of competence. In the United States, these include the people who picket abortion clinics and scream all manners of filth at frightened and troubled women entering. People who accompany and try to protect these women are instructed to stay close in order to shield them, but not to make contact with the protesters in any way. This constitutes assault, and the police aren't going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who ran into whom -- they are just there to maintain order. The anti-abortion activists understand this as well.
The job of proper law enforcement officers is to leave their personal politics on the shelf and take care of their primary responsibility: ensuring order and defending the rights of the citizenry. They are there to apprehend -- hopefully without maiming -- hooligans attacking the demonstrators and, most importantly, to ensure that all the rest, fundamentalists and homosexuals included, are able to express their opinions peacefully. Then we can charge both sides with holding an unauthorized demonstration. The riot troops managed not only to allow attacks on participants in the march but also to attack a lot of people themselves.
This doesn't mean that in Russia the state is particularly homophobic or anti-Orthodox or totalitarian. It means that the state, in its basic role as an organization providing citizens with order, safety and the chance to stand up peacefully for what they believe, simply doesn't exist.
Ella Paneyakh is a St. Petersburg-based sociologist. A longer version of this comment appeared in Vedomosti.
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