■ Peter Tatchell displays the
international gay "rainbow flag" in Red Square during last year's Moscow
photo: UK Gay News
MOSCOW, May 25, 2007 (GayRussia.ru)
– International solidarity can help give a psychological and practical
boost to local LGBT activists, Peter Tatchell said shortly after arriving in
Moscow for the city’s second Gay Pride.
“It also offers a degree of
protection against State repression,” he said. “Mayor Luzhkov is already
less vocal against gay pride than he was this time last year.
“Perhaps that’s because he knows
the world is watching and there are high profile international observers
attending the pride conference and march,” the London-based human rights
activist and founder of Outrage! suggested.
“The right to hold Moscow Pride is
not just an issue of gay rights – it’s a defence of freedom of expression
for all Russians.
“Gay people are in the front line
of the movement to defend the right to freedom of expression and assembly.”
Mr. Tatchell, who was at last
year’s Moscow Pride – the first to be staged in the Russian capital,
admitted that he was a little scared of what lay ahead for the Pride March,
scheduled for Sunday.
“It is going to be dangerous,” he
said. “We might be assaulted and arrested, like last year.
“But freedom never comes without
people taking risks and challenging the authorities.”
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has
already banned the march – a ban that, Gay Pride organisers say, flouts both
the Russian constitution and the European Charter on Human Rights which the
country signed-up to as it emerged from Communism.
A case against Russia over the
banning of Pride last year has been lodged with the European court of Human
Rights in Strasbourg, which last month ruled against Poland and the ban by
the then Mayor of Warsaw (now the President of Poland) two years ago.
Peter Tatchell had a message for
Mayor Luzhkov: “Homophobia is hateful and divisive. It does not befit the
mayor of a great city like Moscow. Open your mind and your heart, and you
will find that lesbian and gay people are part of your city. As law abiding
citizens, they are entitled to dignity, respect and rights- including the
right to peaceful protest.”
But the message fell on deaf ears –
the Mayor is not allowing the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday.
The only person who, apparently,
can force a change of mind in Moscow City Hall is President Vladimir Putin.
And Mr. Tatchell pointed out that
President Putin has said on a number of occasions that the rights of all
Russian citizens must be respected.
“We expect [the President] to give
a lead in speaking out against homophobia and in legislating protection
against discrimination for Russia’s queer citizens,” Mr. Tatchell said.
“As President of Russia, with a
duty to defend the constitution, it is time [he] told the Moscow city
authorities to lift the ban on gay pride. It is constitutionally unlawful
and is causing huge damage to Russia’s international reputation.”
And Mr. Tatchell hit out at some
Russian human rights activists who refused to include gay and lesbian rights
in their campaigns.
“When human rights activists pick
and choose which freedoms to defend they are compromising the whole human
rights agenda,” he pointed out.
“The fundamental, non-negotiable
principle is that human rights are universal and indivisible.”
It is not only gays from around the
world who are assembling in Moscow this weekend. The world’s press are also
Even the Russian pop group t.A.T.u
took time out from recording sessions in Hollywood to jet in for the
“We think that every person
should express his or her love to another person in the way these two people
wish, and no third parties may interfere with their dogmas,” Lena Katina and
Yulia Volkova said in a statement before leaving the USA.
“We are supporting people disregarding their sexual
orientation or any other differences.”
Mr. Tatchell said that he was surprised that he was
able to get a visa to travel to Russia.
“Either the Russian authorities are
not very systematic in their surveillance of foreign visa applications or
they don’t want the political embarrassment of having to ban foreign
observers,” he said.
She Promises, She Delivers –
Vladimir Luxuria in Moscow for Gay Pride. An interview with
Europe's first trangendered politician. (UK Gay News, May 25, 2007)
Posted: 25 May 2007 at
12:00 (UK time)