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
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
“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,
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.
“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
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
“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
“This issue is on
the agenda for the M4 meeting under the item ‘municipal policies to combat
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
“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
“If he cannot produce the evidence,
he should do the honourable thing and issue a public apology to myself and
“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.
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)