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Mayor, Police, Neo-fascist Thugs and Religious Bigots Shut Down Russian Pride Events

As many of you know, a few weeks ago the Mayor of Moscow refused to allow Russian Lesbians and Gays to celebrate their first-ever Pride celebration. Worse, after banning the events, he sent his police in to forcibly shut down the events, and his police stood by while neo-fascist thugs and religious zealots physically attacked Pride celebrants, including a German parliament member giving an interview to the media.

An excellent article by progressive journalist Doug Ireland along with links to a number of first hand accounts can be found at http://direland.typepad.com/direland/2006/05/moscow_police_a.html

Even though it is thousands of miles away, we in GLN felt it is necessary to act in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Moscow. Lacking any Russian in Russian consulets in Chicago, we decided instead to focus on the odious role of the Russian Orthodox Church during the Pride Events, knowing we could follow up with the local Chicago-area churches if need be.

Here is a copy of our letter to the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church for the Chicago area:

An Open Letter to the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States

Dear Archbishop Alypy,

This past weekend Lesbian and Gay people in Moscow attempted to exercise their democratic right to peaceably assemble, and instead were met by violence by neo-fascist thugs, Russian Orthodox priests, and other supporters of your church in Moscow, according to Le Monde. Reuters reported "men and women carrying Russian Orthodox icons" as they physically attacked the gay rights demonstrators.

This violence was not the act of "rogue elements" of your church, but was encouraged at the highest levels. Rather than challenging the undemocratic actions of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and a local court in banning the gay pride events, Russian Patriarch Alexy II supported their suppression, and remained silent when the main leader of Russia's Muslims called for a "violent mass protest" against gay rights activists.

This is not the first time that leading members of your church have organized violence against Gays and Lesbians. The Russian Interfax news agency reported that "An Orthodox priest was seen blessing a group - many holding religious banners - that attacked a gay nightclub in Moscow in late April."

Archbishop, we demand that you publicly condemn the violent actions of your co-religionists in Russia in no uncertain terms. We will interpret your failure to do so as an endorsement of their actions.

We may disagree about many things, Archbishop, but I would hope that you agree that individuals and groups should be freely able to peaceably assemble without the threat of physical attack by the police, private organizations or individuals.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Thayer, co-founder, Gay Liberation Network
Deborah Lake, Director, Sankofa Way
Bob Schwartz, Gay Liberation NetworkRich Wilson, Gay Liberation Network
Edward Farnham, Gay Liberation Network
Pat Fraser
Roger Fraser
Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches
Jenn Peterson
Ann Marie Kneebone
Brent Holman-Gomez

PS We invite others to write to the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S. to express their views:

Diocese of Chicago & Detroit, ROCOR
P.O. Box 1367
Des Plaines, IL 60017


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