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GLNer to Join With "Illegal" Moscow Pride Event This Saturday

GLN permalink 5-25-2011

Gay Liberation Network co-founder Andy Thayer landed in Moscow a few hours ago to help represent U.S. LGBTs at this year's "illegal" Moscow Pride event to held at 12 noon, Saturday, May 28.

Despite a decision last fall by the European Court of Human Rights that the Russian government's bans of previous Pride events were in violation of the Russian Constitution's guarantee of freedom of assembly, Moscow authorities have again banned Moscow Pride this year, citing their alleged inability to provide security for the non-violent Pride demonstrators. Participants in the first two Moscow Pride events, in 2006 and 2007, faced violence from neo-fascist counter-demonstrators and arrests by the police.

In 2008 and 2009, the fascists were hoodwinked into going to the wrong location, but Pride participants were nonetheless arrested, including Thayer at his first Moscow Pride in 2009. In 2010 there were no arrests, as GayRussia Pride organizers (www.gayrussia.eu) used subterfuge and a "flash mob" approach to elude both fascists and the police.

Riot police round up Pride demonstrators, Moscow 2009

"The Russian authorities have the power to provide security for innumerable visiting heads of state, including President Obama, but not their own citizens when they avail themselves of a right guaranteed by the Russian Constitution?," said Thayer. "It is ludicrous for the representatives of the second or third greatest military power in the world to claim that they are incapable of providing adequate protection for non-violent Moscow Pride participants."

This year, in light of the landmark European Court of Human Rights decision, GayRussia organizers have vowed that they will return to their early practice of publicly announcing the time and location of the Pride event in the center of Moscow.

"It is testimony to the courage of GayRussia organizers that they have chosen to go forward with Moscow Pride, despite the authorities' illegal ban on Pride and the lack of every legal protection for Russian LGBTs - of their jobs and housing, for example," said Thayer. "The European Court has said that Russian LGBTs have the right to assemble, but this remains a paper decision with no impact."

"GayRussia's decision to go forward with Pride is very reminiscent of the heroic decision 50 years ago this year by Civil Rights activists in the U.S. to launch the Freedom Rides to test the federal ban on segregated transportation facilities. Then and today, while high court decisions remain toothless, direct action is required to ensure that rights are won in reality. This is a lesson that advocates of civil rights around the world can learn from."

Thayer will be blogging from Moscow over the next few days, will participate in Saturday's Pride demonstration, and is scheduled to return to the United States on Monday, May 30.

The Gay Liberation Network is urging people to call the Russian embassy in Washington, DC -- (202) 338-3263 or (202) 232-5988 -- to protest their decision to ban Pride, and to demand that they ensure the safety of Pride recipients.


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