ST. PETERSBURG, June 20, 2011 (GayRussia) – City authorities in St. Petersburg have again banned a planned Gay Pride Parade. But they gave the go-ahead for an anti-gay rally in the city which was staged at the weekend.
Organisers of the rally demanded that the authorities put an end to what they called “sexual perversion”.
The rally, organised by the national People’s Cathedral movement, part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the right-wing conservative coalition Parents Standing, was staged a week before the scheduled Slavic Gay Pride
During the rally on Saturday, participants stood in front of a coffin which was wrapped with a rainbow flag. At the end of the rally – after the speakers had made their speeches, the coffin was destroyed and thrown into a trash.
“This is a symbolic destruction and burial of the movements of perverts,” commented one of the participants.
In addition, the organisers asked for the resignation of Vladimir Korovin, the head of the Moscow district of St. Petersburg, for allowing a gay rally staged on May 17, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. This was the second LGBT themed public action to be ever authorised in the city.
The organisers further called on the Regional Parliament of St. Petersburg to ask the State Duma to initiate a ban of “the propaganda of sexual perversion for its anti-family orientation, a danger for public morality and a threat for the country’s demographics”.
Slavic Gay Pride in St. Petersburg is scheduled for June 25. To date, the city hall has still not agreed on any application submitted by the organisers, despite a ruling at the end of last year against the Russian Federation by the European Court of Human Rights over the bans of Gay Prides in Moscow. The ruling became final in April.
This ruling was ignored by the Russian government and Moscow City Hall last month when 18 Moscow Pride participants were arrested after extremist thugs attacked those trying to stage the event.
Two Russian participants were severely beaten by extremists – one of them was journalist Elena Kostyuchenko who writes for the opposition daily Novaya Gazeta. She had publicly “come out” hours before the attempt at staging the Pride and was hospitalised for five days.
Organisers of St. Petersburg Gay Pride march said the city authorities rejected two of their applications to stage the city’s second attempt to stage a Pride.
Yuri Gavrikov, head of local gay rights group Equality and Pride chief organiser, told GayRussia that almost two weeks ago his organisation had filed three applications with the city’s administration.
“We already received two denials,” he said, adding that the authorities had suggested that the Pride be staged in an industrial zone.
“Is this a joke,” he fumed. “Why not offer us an island off the St Petersburg shore?”
This year St. Petersburg is organising the third Slavic Gay Pride. Previously, attempts have been made to stage the event in Moscow (2009) and Minsk (2010).
“We asked the authorities for a suitable alternative, not on the city’s main street but not in an industrial zone, kilometres away from the centre,” Mr Gavrikov said. Organisers are expected to take the matter to court this week.
“We will march in the streets of St. Petersburg on June 25 regardless of whether we are permitted to or not,” Mr Gavrikov added. “The [Russian] Constitution makes it clear: the street belongs to everyone, gays included.
Last October, three courts in St Petersburg gave a decision against the City for banning last year’s first Gay Pride March attempt in the city.
On that occasion, five participants were arrested for holding an unsanctioned gay pride march near the Hermitage museum.
Following the court decision, the city authorised its first ever gay rights rally on November 20, though the event was stopped by the police before the end of the allocated time due to the presence of anti-gay groups attempting to surround the gay rights activists.
No Russian city ever authorised a Gay Pride march. Over the years, Gay Pride has became a symbol of gay rights campaign in Russia after a poll released this month found that 53% of Russians have heard about the attempt to host Gay Pride in the capital. Though 61% said they still oppose such action, this number decreased from 82% a year before.SEE ALSO
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Mayhem at Moscow Gay Pride in Pictures Photo gallery of photographs by Charles Meacham of Walk with Pride Project. (UK Gay News, May 28, 2011)
Moscow Gay Pride - Our Annual Blog More or less as it happens, the low-down from Moscow Gay Pride. (UK Gay News, May 2011)