UK/RUSSIA

Gay Pride Parade Wars: Livingstone Attacks Tatchell and Alexeyev Attacks Livingstone

 


 

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■  Nikolai Alexeyev joins the protest outside City Hall in London.
 

LONDON, March 1, 2007  –  London Mayor Ken Livingstone was yesterday accused of being “hypocritical” by gay Russian journalist Nikolai Alexeyev, one of the organisers of Moscow Pride, who is in London and attended the post-M4 Summit press conference.

The cause of the outburst was the press release issued yesterday morning by the Mayor of London’s office which supported the rights of gay men and women to peacefully demonstrate in Eastern Europe, including Moscow.  But the statement criticised Peter Tatchell of Outrage! for being “Islamaphobic”. [See Mr. Tatchell's response at the end - added 20:00]

As he joined the Outrage! demonstration outside City Hall following the press conference, Mr. Alexeyev fumed:  “Peter is one of the few people in the United Kingdom who supports the struggle of gays around the world.

“He was in Moscow last May for Pride.  And just because he made one statement after the Mufti of Russian had condemned gays, saying that they should be beaten, does not make him Islamaphobic .

“Peter also publicly condemned leaders of the [Russian] Orthodox Church,” he pointed out.  “He also condemned the ultra right-wing ‘nationalists’ and others in the months before last year’s Pride, and during the event.

“The Mayor should check his facts in the gay media before making such accusations.”

Mr. Alexeyev told protestors that he sensed a slight change in the position of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

“There was no reference to homosexuality being unnatural or even ‘satanic’,” he said.  “He even went as far as to say that while he would again ban the Moscow Gay Pride Parade this year, the final decision would be with the court.”

Around a dozen protestors, including Peter Tatchell, gathered outside City Hall at lunchtime.  But Mayor Luzhkov left the building by a back entrance.

Speaking on behalf of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, George Broadhead also condemned Mr. Livingstone’s remarks on Peter Tatchell.

“Whilst Mr Livingstone seems only too ready to condemn homophobia from Christian and Jewish sources, he seems highly reluctant to do so when it comes from Islamic sources,” he said in a statement last night.

“Mr Livingstone is clearly determined to treat Islam with kid gloves no matter how stridently homophobic its adherents are.

“The slightest criticism of Islam is immediately branded Islamaphobic,” he continued.

GALHA was the first gay group to call on Mr Livingstone to condemn Mayor Luzhov’s hostility to Moscow Pride which he did in February last year.

“We are asking Mr Livingstone to point out to the mayor of Moscow that a gay pride celebration is a recognition of lesbian and gay human rights and should be welcomed,” Mr. Broadhead said.

“It is not something to be disapproved of or banned.

“And to give Mr Livingstone credit where it is due, he responded favourably to GALHAs appeal [last year].”

The statement in full issued by the Mayor of London’s office:

“There have been attacks on the rights of gays and lesbians in Eastern Europe with violence at, and/or bans on, Gay Pride events last year in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Moldova and Romania. I have already, and continue, to condemn all these and assert the basic human and civil right of gays and lesbians to peacefully demonstrate.

“Encouragement has been given to right wing extremists by religious and political leaders by statements such as the prime minister of Poland that, 'the affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization,' by the president of Poland that, 'if that kind of approach to sexual life were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear' and the Mayor of Moscow that homosexuality is 'satanic'. London welcomes the important contribution that lesbians and gay men make to our city and has drawn a clear line against hate crime. As Mayor of London I condemn all acts of homophobic discrimination.

“I note that the Russian Government has recently stated that blanket bans on Gay Pride marches are unacceptable – all citizens have the right to peaceful demonstration and it is the responsibility of the police to take reasonable steps to protect citizens from violence. This must be implemented in practice.

“This issue is on the agenda for the M4 meeting under the item ‘municipal policies to combat discrimination.

“Mr Livingstone also criticised Mr Peter Tatchell. He said: 'It is clear that there is a concerted attack on gay and lesbian rights in a series of East European countries fed by diverse currents. In Moscow the Russian Orthodox church, the chief rabbi and the grand Mufti all supported the ban on the Gay Pride march with the main role, due to its great weight in society, being played by the Orthodox church. The attempt of Mr Tatchell to focus attention on the role of the grand Mufti in Moscow, in the face of numerous attacks on gay rights in Eastern Europe which overwhelmingly come from right wing Christian and secular currents, is a clear example of an Islamaphobic campaign.”

Peter Tatchell, who was on a speaking engagement in the North West yesterday evening, was furious when he read the press statement today as saw the remarks made about him by the mayor.

“This is a lie, fumed Mr. Tatchell in a statement this evening.

“Anyone who has read the OutRage! news release about the Moscow Mayor’s visit to London this week will know that neither I nor OutRage! have mentioned a word about the Grand Mufti.

“A year ago, I criticised the Grand Mufti after he urged his followers to violently attack gay people in the streets,” he admitted.  “Is Ken Livingstone saying that human rights groups should not condemn fanatics who incite violence against LGBTI people?

“The main focus of my criticism during last year’s campaign was the homophobia of the Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, who had banned Moscow Gay Pride.  I also condemned the Chief Rabbi, the Russian Orthodox Church, neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists.  The Grand Mufti was not singled out.

“To suggest that my criticism of the Grand Mufti was an Islamophobic campaign is dishonest, despicable nonsense. “It brings the Mayor’s office into disrepute.  He has made a very serious libellous statement,” Mr. Tatchell said.

“Ken Livingstone should produce the evidence to back up his claim that my campaign has focused on the Grand Mufti.

“If he cannot produce the evidence, he should do the honourable thing and issue a public apology to myself and OutRage!

“By lying Ken has revealed himself to be a person without principles, honesty or integrity.

“I say this as someone who has supported Ken Livingstone for nearly 30 years, backing him for leader of the Greater London Council in 1980 and for Mayor of London in 2000.  I wrote Ken’s LGBT Manifesto for the 2000 Mayoral election campaign.

“Ken used to be a great guy.  Lately, he seems to have dumped his honesty and integrity. It is a huge disappointment to see him desert his principles and turn on his long-time friends,” Mr. Tatchell concluded.

 

SEE ALSO

Homosexuality Not a Disease, Gay Parisian Mayor Tells Moscow’s Luzhkov.  Homosexuality is not a disease you catch, the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, himself openly gay, told a press conference in London yesterday. (UK Gay News, March 1, 2007)

 

 

 
■ The demonstration on the ban of Moscow Pride by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov
 
     
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Posted: 1 March 2007 at 12:30 (UK time) - updated 20:00

 

 

 

 

 

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