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Moscow Gay Pride to go on despite ban

by Open-Publishing - Sunday 27 May 2007

Edito Discriminations-Minorit. Extreme right Russia

Russian gay activists vowed yesterday to hold a demonstration in Moscow despite a ban, a year after a similar attempt led to arrests by police, attacks by right-wing nationalists and verbal abuse by pensioners.

The Sunday demonstration is to mark the 14th anniversary of Russia’s decriminalisation of homosexuality. But despite that move, intolerance of homosexuality remains high in Russia; it is denounced by the dominant Russian Orthodox Church and President Vladimir Putin in his annual news conference implied that gays were undermining the country by not procreating.

Right-wingers punched demonstrators at last year’s gay rights event as elderly spectators shouted. Police broke up the fights and arrested some of the demonstrators.

This year, the activists applied for permission to march to the ‘Lubyanka Stone’, a monument commemorating victims of Soviet oppression that stands near the former KGB headquarters. But city authorities refused permission, saying the planned march was a threat to public order.

Nikolai Alexeyev, a leader of the Gay Russia movement, says demonstrators will instead gather outside the Moscow mayor’s office to try to hand over a letter signed by scores of European lawmakers supporting gays’ right to demonstrate.

But city police spokesman Viktor Bryukov said afterwards that "the capital’s police will halt any attempt at provocation," the RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

Several legislators from Western Europe plan to take part in the demonstration, including Vladimir Luxuria, a trans-gender Italian parliament member.

The only Russian politician to publicly support the demonstration comes from an unexpected wing: Alexei Mitrofanov of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party.

Yulia Volkova and Lena Katina, the vocialists of the Russian pop group Tatu also say they will participate.