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Luzhkov Should Stand Trial Over Moscow Gay Pride Bans,
MOSCOW, May 27, 2010 – The mayor of Moscow is a criminal because of his bans of Moscow Gay Pride for the last five years, the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said this afternoon.
“He should be put on trial for violating the Russian constitution – the real criminals are not the organisers of Moscow Pride, but the Mayor of Moscow and the judges who uphold this illegal ban.”
Mr. Tatchell, the coordinator of the British LGBT Human Rights Group OutRage!, and Human Rights Spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales, was speaking at a packed press conference at Moscow’s Holiday Inn on Lesnaya Street.
“We know victory and freedom will come. The European Court will overturn this ban very soon,” he predicted.
And President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin also came under attack. “[They] are colluding with this ban by failing to order it to be overturned.
“I call the Russian President and Prime Minister to show leadership by publicly condemning the ban and by calling on the mayor of Moscow to lift it They should ensure freedom of expression and the right to protest to all citizens of Moscow and Russia gay – and straight.
“I call on them to reaffirm the human rights of all Russian people, many whose rights are under threat.”
Mr. Tatchell went on to say that Russia is a great nation with a proud and great history.
“Many important figures in Russian history have been gay or bisexual, including Sergei Eisenstein, Peter Tchaikovsky, Rudolph Nureyev, Sergei Dagialev, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Gogol. These are just a few of the many great gay and bisexual icons of Russian history and culture.
“Their contributions to Russian history deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated,” he said.
German MP Volker Beck said that the ban again this year, and the banning of three small pickets, was not only a breach of Russian law on freedom of assembly, but also of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia signed up to
“ We have a clear precedent from the European Court of Human Rights in the case of the ban of the Warsaw Gay Pride,” Mr. Beck said.
“It is the same case here in Moscow as it was in Poland. the right to freedom of assembly for LGBT people has to be respected and the government has to ensure it manages security.
“Security cannot be an excuse for banning a peaceful event and Russia will lose the case at the European Court because of the wrong decision of the mayor,” he suggested.
“We are here to support this right to freedom of assembly and I can understand the anger of Nikolai Alekseev and the activists of the organisation GayRussia that the support of the international community is weak.
“Two weeks ago, I was in Vilnius [for Baltic Pride] – and taking part were the ambassadors of France, Great Britain, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Spain. They spoke at the event.
“I hope that next year we will all be able to attend the fist legal gay pride here in Moscow.”
Louis-Georges Tin, the founder and president of International Day Against Homophobia, pointed out that he attended the first Moscow Pride in 2006.
“I have a feeling that every year the same ban happens. This should be a day of Pride for all.
But it is a day of shame for the Mayor of Moscow and the Russian Courts. Here the mayor of Moscow is saying that being gay is satanic while when he travels abroad to Paris or Berlin, he accepts to work with the openly gay Mayors Delanoe and Wowereit.”
Mr. Tin then saluted the courage and generosity of the Moscow Pride organising committee.
“Everyday they are fighting homophobia in a tense environment.
“Today, we are calling on President Medvedev to intervene against the ban [of the Mayor] – an unjust breach of freedom of assembly for LGBT people in Russia which has been ongoing now for five years.
“We call the European Union, and the US and Canadian Embassies in Moscow to issue a joint statement in support of Moscow Pride, as was the case in Vilnius and Bucharest. We call on them to monitor Saturday’s planned action by the LGBT community.
“The International community can no longer ignore the basic breach of freedom that LGBT people face in Moscow simply because of geopolitical concerns. The European Convention on Human Rights applies in Russia in the same way it applies in Lithuania or Romania.”
Chicago gay activist Andy Thayer, the co-founder of Gay Liberation Network, said that “coming from a country which illegally imprisons people without trial, tortures them, and has troops occupying over 130 countries around the world, I will not presume to speak about human rights on behalf of my government.
“Rather, I would like to speak in the tradition of those who organised against that government in order to win greater rights. And there is no better example of that than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
“Dr. King and other civil rights heroes taught that unjust laws sometimes have to be broken in order to make civil rights progress.
“That is why this Saturday, this gay pride flag I brought from Chicago will fly on the streets of Moscow along with Russian gay pride flags, whether there is permit or not. This is the way that civil rights progress has always been made.
“Finally, I would say to the leader of my government, Mr. Obama, it is very easy to speak out in favour of human rights in countries to which you are opposed. It is a far more difficult thing to speak out in favour of human rights at home, and in countries to which you are allied. Recently, Mr. Obama, you cut a nuclear arms deal with the Russian government.
“It is time now to speak out against the ban on Moscow Pride scheduled for this Saturday. Russian gays and lesbians who have been so courageously organizing for their freedom, and the freedom of all Russians, deserve no less.”
Nikolai Alekseev, the chief organiser of Moscow Pride, pointed out that the LGBT community did not oppose the rights of people to protest and say what they think against homosexuality.
“They have the same rights as us to express themselves. They simply should do it in a dignified and peaceful manner.
“In Moscow, we can only witness that the EU sold the human rights against economical interests,” he suggested.
“We almost organised an event with the Danish Embassy which was at th last minute cancelled following a meeting of the EU diplomats based in Moscow.
“On one hand, the EU says that it holds human rights discussion with Russia but these talks are only leading nowhere. “Why can the Swedish can send a Minister to the Pride in Vilnius? Why can French Ambassadors can walk in the Prides of Bucharest or Vilnius? WWhy can all the EU Embassies come with joint statements after the Vilnius Pride was first banned?
“And in Russia, they simply cannot say anything. No Embassy can issue a statement of support and I am not even talking of organizing an event.
“It seems that the Vienna Convention, which we are told by the European prevent them from expressing any position, applies only in Russia or in Belarus but not at all in Latvia, Poland and Romania where the British Embassies have flown Rainbow flags on Pride days./p>
“The European Commission will tell you that they give money to some LGBT organizations in Russia. This is just about it. They are ready to write a cheque to avoid having to speak, simply to soothe their conscience.
“We do not need money. We do not want it. We do not need to get paid to fight for our rights. We do not intend to be employees of the European Commission.“We simply want political support,” he pleaded
Blogging from Moscow Gay Pride. UK Gay News is in Moscow and blogging has started. Today the first of two legal appeals on Pride bans ... and a press conference in the Holiday Inn. (UK Gay News, May 27, 2010)