Chicago activist Andy Thayer is traveling to Russia this week to participate in a gay pride demonstration recently banned by the Moscow city government. Mayor Yury Luzhkov has labeled gays "satanic," and last year had Thayer and others arrested by the OMOH, Moscow's riot police. This year's demonstration, slated for Saturday, May 29, will go forward despite Luzhkov's ban.
This the fifth year that Moscow authorities have banned gay pride events in the city, despite a decriminalization of homosexuality that occurred 17 years ago when Russian authorities were courting the European Union. In announcing this year's ban, Moscow authorities did not offer an alternative venue to the proposed site of the protest, as they are required to by law.
"We are ready to take all bans to the European Court of Human Rights, which this year is due to rule on the complaints lodged over the bans on the first three Moscow Gay Prides - in 2006, 2007, 2008," said Nikolai Alekseev, the principal organizer of Moscow Pride.
Thayer's trip is sponsored by the all-volunteer Gay Liberation Network (GLN, www.GayLiberation.net), of which he is a co-founder. In 2007, GLN sponsored Nikolai Alekseev's first-ever visit to the United States, where he spoke at the 7th annual Matthew Shepard March and Rally for LGBT Freedom.
On Thursday, May 27th, Thayer will be joining other international activists and Russian Gay Pride leaders at a 1 PM (local time). Other participants in the press conference will include:
Nikolai Alekseev, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Moscow gay pride, head of the Human Rights LGBT Project GayRussia.Ru
Volker Beck, Member of Parliament, German Bundestag (Berlin, Germany)
Peter Tatchell, Leader of the British human rights group Outrage! (London, UK)
Louis-Georges Tin, President of the Committee of the International Day of Agaist Homophobia "IDAHO Committee" (Paris, France)
Nikolai Baev, Member of the Organizing Committee of the Moscow gay pride, human rights activist of the LGBT Project GayRussia.Ru
Maria Efremenkova, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the St. Petersburg gay pride