Activists to defy Moscow gay pride demo ban
27 May 2010 France24 - LINK
GLN permalink 5-27-2010
AFP - Gay rights activists vowed on Thursday to go ahead with a gay pride demonstration in Moscow this weekend, despite a ban by the city authorities.
Gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev of Russia attends a press conference in Moscow. Russian gay rights movement leaders annouced they will go ahead with their planned march despite permission being denied by the Moscow city government.
"No illegal decisions by the authorities or court decisions will stop us from holding our demonstration," organiser Nikolai Alexeyev, one of Russia's leading gay rights activists, told reporters.
"We will hold it Saturday May 29 in any circumstances, whether or not there is a court decision in our favour."
Moscow city authorities, led by openly homophobic mayor Yury Luzhkov, have repeatedly refused permission for gay pride parades and previous attempts to stage such events have been thwarted by police.
Luzhkov has called gay pride parades "Satanic" and argued that Russia is not ready for such events.
Activists have asked the authorities for permission to hold a gay pride event in Moscow every year since 2006.
This year they made their fifth attempt, but were again denied. A Moscow court on Thursday upheld the city's ban, Alexeyev said, adding that organisers have lodged an appeal.
The unsanctioned protest will take place in front of the Moscow offices of the European Commission, Alexeyev said.
He accused the EC and ambassadors of Western countries of "hypocrisy" after he said they had refused to host the event on the grounds of one of their embassies, a tactic organisers had attempted to use to circumvent the ban.
Gay rights activists Peter Tatchell of Britain(R), seen here with Andy Thayer of the US addressing a press conference in Moscow, said he was "still bearing the eye and brain damage" after being beaten in 2007 by anti-gay counter-demonstrators but vowed to take part in Saturday's gay pride rally in Moscow.
International activists flanked Alexeyev at a news conference, including Britain's Peter Tatchell of the Outrage! campaign group and openly gay German lawmaker Volker Beck.
Both Tatchell and Beck were beaten up by anti-gay counter-demonstrators while attending previous gay pride events in Moscow.
Tatchell said he was "still bearing the eye and brain damage" after being beaten in 2007 but vowed to take part in Saturday's protest.
"I am unbowed and defiant," he said. "We will carry on this fight until we win."
Tatchell also called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to "show leadership" and intervene to cancel the ban.
Beck said he saw the gay pride ban as a "human rights case."
"Every group in the society has the freedom of expression, has the freedom of assembly," he said. "In Moscow, this is totally denied to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and this is totally unacceptable."
Last year, organisers attempted to hold an unsanctioned demonstration on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final, held in Moscow. Protesters were swiftly dragged away by riot police in front of journalists.