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Saturday, 16 May 2009

Moscow in the pink

Despite threats to bash and arrest the marchers, British gay human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell intends to be at today’s Moscow Gay Pride parade – this year renamed Slavic Gay Pride to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality struggles in all Slavic countries, Russian and non-Russian.

The parade is scheduled to take place at lunchtime, and coincides with the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which is being held tonight, also in Moscow.

The Moscow authorities have said the parade is banned and have threatened “tough measures” against anyone who tries to march. In addition, says Tatchell, there is the likelihood of mob violence against the marchers by neo-Nazis, skinheads, ultra-nationalists and Christian fundamentalists – as happened in 2006 and 2007.

“I am joining the parade to show my support for the courageous Russian gay campaigners. All year round they risk arrest, imprisonment and queer-bashing attacks. These men and women are absolute heroes. I salute them,” says Tatchell, who is the human-rights spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales and the Green Party parliamentary candidate for the university constituency of Oxford East in southeast England.

“International solidarity is hugely important [. . .] This parade is in defence of human rights.”

He says he’s appealing to President Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin and Mayor Luzhkov, saying that gay people are no threat to Russian society.

“Be magnanimous. Uphold democratic rights and freedoms. Allow the Slavic Gay Pride parade.”

At Moscow Pride in 2007, Tatchell was severely beaten by right-wing extremists, while the police stood by.

“They then arrested me,” he says. “I spent several hours in police detention before being released without charge. My attackers have never been arrested, even though they were clearly identified in photos and film footage.”

More about Slavic Pride here.

Meanwhile, Baltic Pride has been saved after Riga’s Administrative Court lifted a ban imposed by the city council on tomorrow’s Pride march.


Related links:
Mayor bans “Satanists”
For all your fury, Yuri, Moscow will go pink

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