Russian GLBT Activist: Moscow Gives Thumbs-Up to Pride
A gay equality activist says that this year, for the first time, Moscow will see a legally permitted Pride parade, Interfax reported on April 26.
Under Moscow’s former mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, GLBTs were denied permission to have a parade. When they defied the mayor and attempted Pride demonstrations, they were subject to arrest. This year, for the first time, the city government has said that it will allow a Pride gathering, according to an announcement by activist Nikolay Alexeyev.
"The Moscow government told the Moscow gay pride parade organizers on Tuesday that the Moscow authorities have authorized a gay pride parade in Moscow," said Alexeyev.
The equality activist has butted heads with Russian officials for years over the issue. On Sept. 15, 2010, Alexeyev was arrested before he could board a flight to Geneva. Alexeyev had planned to picket Luzhkov, and had filed suit against the Moscow government over the issue of obtaining permission for Pride events.
Earlier that year, Alexeyev told the world media that the city’s refusal--for the fifth year in a row--wouldn’t stop organizers.
"Despite the requirements of the relevant legislation the Moscow government has not offered the organizers any alternatives for holding the planned event," Alexeyev said. "The action will be held anyway. Gay activists have held unauthorized rallies every year, being beaten and detained by police."
Last autumn, Alexeyev won his suit against Moscow in the European Court of Human Rights. Around the same time, Luzhkov was dismissed as mayor--a major victory for GLBT equality advocates in Russia.
The shift may indicate a new era of glasnost between Russian officials and the country’s GLBT community. Alexeyev’s profile has only risen in the wake of the changes: The rights activist embarked on a series of speaking engagements around the United States last month.
"Whatever happens here on human rights can be heard in Moscow, and it’s the same when it happens in Moscow--it can be heard all over the world," the equality campaigner told American audiences.
"It was a major blow for the Russian government because it was the first-ever defeat at the European Court of Human Rights for the Russian government," Alexeyev remarked regarding the victory in the European Union courts. "And it shows there are violations of the rights of LGBT people, which is contrary to what the government always claimed."
Alexeyev himself came in for scrutiny and criticism when, just prior to his U.S. tour, his scheduled appearance in California was canceled following the activist having posted anti-Semitic comments.
Alexeyev, in his turn, accused American activists of pressuring him and making him for miserable than he had been during his arrest the previous September.
The rally is scheduled for May 28 and will take place in Bolotnaya Square, the Interfax article said. The event has been given the name "Moscow Gay Pride Parade: Homosexuality in the History of World Culture and Civilization," and will be limited to 500 celebrants.
"The purpose of the rally will be to provide society with objective information on the history of the attitude towards homosexuality in culture and science, on the contribution made by prominent gay people to culture and art, and role of prominent culture figures and artists in the protection of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals," Alexeyev said in his statement.
GLBT equality activists have been at work in many of the nations formerly belonging to the Soviet bloc. But progress has been piecemeal; though Pride celebrations are becoming more commonplace in nations where they were never allowed before, or where they drew heavy and even violent opposition, legal impediments to GLBT equality persist. One notable anti-gay legal development took place earlier this month, when Hungarian lawmakers enacted a new national constitution that included a heterosexuals-only provision for marriage, denying gay and lesbian families recognition.
Same-sex couples may, however, register as domestic partners in Hungary.