OTHER BLOGS FROM MOSCOW GAY PRIDE
FRIDAY MAY 27
20:45. Nikolai Alekseev: "Your support is, more than ever, important. We remember what it was in 2006 – the violence, the beatings. But what should we do [this year]? The city hall will be responsible for not respecting the decisions of the [European Court of Human Rights] and openly violating the laws of Russia on the European Human Rights Convention, which Russia has signed up to. We wish we did not have to face confrontation tomorrow. But someone has to stand up and denounce this masquerade. By doing this, we are defending the rights of ALL minorities.
20:00. Dan Choi, who "told" and was thrown out of the US Army for being gay: "I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder and proud and honoured to be able to support [the Russian gay community]. I think this is a different type of battlefields from those I have seen. In this battlefield [in Moscow], our only weapon is truth. Our only armour is integrity. And our only ammunition is love. "
19:00. Tomorrow's Sixth Moscow Gay Pride will take place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and in front of the Moscow City Hall. The organisers have just unveiled their plans at their annual press conference which was held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel just a yards from Red Square and the Kremlin. "We decided that this year we will not organise a new 'cat and mouse game' with the police and we only call on those who understand the consequences of a participation to these actions to show up" said the organisers. Full details, in English, HERE.
18:00. The statement from Louis-Georges Tin, president of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobie (IDAHO),
who is in Moscow for Gay Pride:
"In October 2010, Russian and Moscow authorities were condemned by the European Court of Human Rights. It was a victory for Nicolas Alekseev, president of Gayrussia,
and vice-president of the IDAHO Committee. Louis-Georges Tin, the president of the IDAHO Committee has supported Moscow Pride since the beginning, and has come to this
event 4 times already. This year again, he is in Moscow to raise public awareness.
17:00. Just back from the press conference. Such are the concerns for our personal safety that we were advised not able to simply cross the road to our apartment block as the "gay-bashing thugs" could well be following us as we left the Ritz Carlton. So it was a case of taking a massive detour, with six of us opting to stop-off at the Café Gogol for a very tasty late lunch. Now gathering thoughts on what was said at the press conference - Peter Tatchell in fine form, Dan Choi also hard-hitting, as was Andy Thayer. More soon ...
12:45. Moscow Gay Pride Press conference starts at 1.30pm. Being held in the Ritz Carlton Hotel (should I wear a tie?) and some 40 local reporters are expected - such in the interest here. GayRussia is planning to stream the press conference "live" HERE. Obviously, all depends on the co-operation of "the technology!
11:30. A statement has arrived from Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe in Strasburg. "I learnt that a LGBT Pride event planned for Saturday 28 May in Moscow has not been authorised by the authorities because of expected traffic obstructions and the impact of this event on the "psychological health and moral damage of children and teenagers". At the same time, I learnt that the authorities granted permission to a counter demonstration. I would like to recall that the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights in a democratic society and they belong to all people. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in two judgments against unlawful restrictions or bans running counter to the exercise of freedom of assembly by LGBT persons in the context of the organisation of Pride parades. Peaceful demonstrations cannot be banned simply because of hostile attitudes to the demonstrators or to the causes they advocate. The State also has a duty to protect the participants in peaceful demonstrations including when they hold unpopular views or belong to minorities."
11:00. Organisers of Pride have just released an email they received from British singer Jimmy Somerville. "I want to send a message to all of you who'll be marching on Saturday: 'You and me together, fighting for our love'," he wrote. The Moscow mayor is a coward and anyone who marches against his reactionary and homophobic decree, is a brave and admirable person. The freedom to live our lives and love who we choose is a fundamental human right. Shame on you, the Russian political establishment! WE ARE HERE AND WE"RE NOT GOING AWAY! Be STRONG, Be PROUD and Be GAY ON THE DAY!"
THURSDAY MAY 26
22:30. Singer Jimmy Somerville telephoned from London this evening with greetings to the Russian LGBT community and to express solidarity with Moscow Gay Pride, Peter Tatchell reported. All gathering around the TV to watch the show with Nikolai Alekseev, recorded earlier today. Word has it that the walk-out by Alekseev will be included in the transmission. Obviously, those present in the apartment will not understand a word! But, as they say, "every picture tells a story".
19:00. First-hand report of the "Alekseev walk-out" on the TV show by Andy Thayer of the Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network. He was in the studio audience.
18:30. Good luck! That’s the message to the Moscow gay community just received her Sir Ian McKellen via Peter Tatchell. “The Mayor of Moscow is a coward,” the out-gay actor and activist said in his message. “Rather than face the fact that Muscovite gays and lesbians should be valued on a par with their straight peers, he panders to the right wing. He throws them some red meat, some gays, to gnaw on. In the 1980s, Mrs Thatcher once did the same in the United Kingdom but she was eventually defeated totally by the efforts of gay people, their families and friends, who joined together to fight injustice.
“I send my heart-felt support for your bravery in marching on 28 May in the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev and Nureyev,” he concluded.
18:00. Quite a sensation in the studios of State broadcaster, Russia 1. Nikolai Alekseev, who was representing the “gay” side
of the debate, got so fed-up with the one-sided nature of the debate against the most homophobic member of the Duma (Russian Parliament),
Alexander Hinstein, that he
walked off the set and out of the studios, followed by the gay activists in the studio audience. The programme, which went out “live” in the far eastern part of
Russia, was due to be transmitted in the Moscow area this evening. But the programme producers have opted to do another programme with an alternative gay activist,
who has yet to be named. Even the moderator of the “debate”, Vladimir Solovyov, was not neutral, he was siding with Mr. Hinstein, a member of the ruling United
13:00. One of the Brits here discovered a piece in The Guardian, Sign Edinburgh's Card of LGBT Solidarity with Moscow. Pride organisers are very upbeat about the report from a major British newspaper. They are now on their way to the TV studios for the "big gay debate". It will be screened live in the East of the country (Vladivostok).
13:00. Nikolai Alekseev: "Next 48 hours will shape the future of Moscow Pride and LGBT community in Russia in general - and I am not joking." He is now preparing for his major TV debate, to be transmitted tonight, with a major anti-gay politician. The 'foreign' continent of Pride attendees here will be going along to the recording this afternoon. Peter Tatchell decided that a trip to a supermarket was needed, so he ventured out ... returned with groceries after managing to understand directions to an underground shopping 'mall' close to the Kremlin.
11:00. Guess who has just walked into the apartment ...
... Dan Choi, who apparently arrived yesterday and is staying at another apartment. Choi, of course, is best known as an openly gay former officer in the United States Army, thrown out under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". He subsequently became even more famous for chaining himself three times to the railings of the White House with other victims of DADT. No doubt the Moscow authorities are reviewing all railings around the Kremlin.10:00. Interesting quote from the office of the police chief: "Everything is ready to prevent [the gays] marching - and arrest them". Seems like the anti-gay rallies staged by thugs and Russian Orthodox Church priests will be permitted.
WEDNESDAY MAY 25
23:00. Food! Realised about 90 minutes ago that apart from an airline lunch I had not eaten today. Told of a decent nearby place that served a good pizza. I was not misled! No sign yet of Nikolai Alekseev. No doubt he is preparing for his big appearance tomorrow on the most popular Russian TV talk show. He will be on for an hour locked in verbal combat with, we are told, one of Russia's most prominent homophobic politicians. We have all been invited to the recording in the afternoon. Won't understand a word, but at least we will be able to hiss, boo and applaud in the right place
19:00. Now in Moscow. There was an Australian and American 'welcoming party' For Peter Tatchell, Judith Silberfeld (from Yagg.com in Paris), Louis-Georges Tin and myself. Logan Mucha and American photographer Chad Meacham who's Walk With Pride exhibition is on a world tour, were there to meet us. A drive to the centre of Moscow at the tail-end of the rush hour and it was not long before we were in the apartment we are staying in until Monday. Ironically, it is a few metres from Moscow City Hall, which has banned Gay Prides for the past six years. Reports locally say there will be no u-turn on their decision to ban the Gay Pride parade on Saturday. The organisers are equally adamant that the parade will go on as planned. It's a very much like that Johnny Mercer song about an irresistible force meeting an immovable object .... something's gotta give!
02:00 (UK Time). What an unearthly hour to wake up! But I have to get the 04:00 National Express bus to Heathrow to start the third Moscow Pride "adventure" undertaken by UK Gay News. [Yawns as shouldn't be awake at this hour]. What awaits the participants this week? Well, with the new mayor of Moscow continuing where Luzhkov left off when he was fired last autumn, the Pride Parade has been banned. Nikolai Alekseev and his band of intrepid co-organisers have vowed: "There might be a ban of the parade, but we are going ahead anyway."
Just as in Belgrade, the motley coalition of neo-Nazis, ultra right wing nationalist 'wingnuts" the Russian Orthodox Church, which is further to the right on its views towards gays that the Vatican, and others looking for a punch-up have vowed to stage their own Anti-Gay Pride.
The local cops will no doubt be scratching their head wondering what to do. Then they will take their only option: Call in the riot squad, officially known at the OMOH, which in cryllic is OMOH, which backwards is ... well work it out - and add "phobes"). What has happened in past years (last year excepted as the organisers managed to fool everyone about the location) was the the Orthodox priests blessed the protesters who then went into battle against the Gay Pride participants. After a few minutes watching the OMON then went into the fray, arresting the Pride organisers (Nikolai Alekseev is usually among the first carted off to the 'paddy wagon') - and grabbing a few thugs, who had started to brawl, for good measure.
Am I looking forward to Moscow Pride this year? Yes, in a macabre way. I want to see if, at the last moment, the powers-that-be allow and protect the Pride Parade as they should under the European Human Rights Charter - a fact that, in April, the European Court of Human Rights reminded the Russian Federation of their obligations.
Who knows what is in store. All I know right now is that I am meeting-up with veteran Moscow Gay Pride attendee Peter Tatchell at Heathrow and catch a flight to Frankfurt when we join-up with IDAHO president Louis-Georges Tin and Judith Silberfeld of the French LGBT Website Yagg.com for the onward flight to Moscow.
Interesting Email in the inbox from Logan Mucha, the Australian openly gay film maker, who hot-footed it from Minsk to Moscow a week ago. " ... [V]ery happy to be moving to the city for a few days after being stuck out here in suburban nothingness.