Peter Tatchell, Britain’s well-known defender of the rights of sexual minorities, is going to visit Moscow to participate in the gay pride parade in Russia’s capital. Tatchell is arriving in Moscow despite the decision of the Moscow government to ban the march of homosexual individuals.
The parade is to take place on May 16, Saturday, to coincide with the final night of the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The contest enjoys stable popularity among the people of untraditional sexual orientation, RIA Novosti news agency reports.
The organizers of the Moscow gay march intend to make it become a common Slavic action this year to attract people’s attention to the problems of sexual minorities in Russia and in other Slavic nations.
Spokespeople for the Russian gay community say that they will organize the demonstration on May 16 even if the Moscow government traditionally does not approve their initiative.
The organizers of the event said at a recent news conference that the choice of the date was not incidental. Many foreign citizens, including homosexual individuals, will visit Moscow to attend the final show of the Eurovision Song Contest, and they will have an opportunity to participate in the march too.
“We will not have a better chance to raise the issue of tolerance. The final night of the Eurovision Song Contest will fit our goal perfectly,” Nikolai Alekseyev, one of the organizers of the march said. If Medvedev and Luzhkov (Moscow Mayor) position Russia as a European country and invite Eurovision, the question of rights should proceed in a European way," he added.
Spokespeople for the Russian gay community submitted two applications to the Moscow government to hold the demonstration in the center of Moscow from 12:00 to 14:00. Another event – a meeting in the Alexandrovsky Garden (also known as Alexander Garden; the garden is located in the heart of Moscow, near the Kremlin walls) – is to take place simultaneously. “We expect that up to 5,000 people will participate in the two actions,” Alekseyev said.
However, the Moscow government answered with a plump 'no' to the two applications.
Gay rights activists were beaten and arrested during attempts to hold peaceful gay demonstrations in recent years. In 2006, more than 100 gay activists were arrested, including German lawmaker Volker Beck. In 2007, anti-gay protesters attacked British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and singer Richard Fairbrass of the band Right Said Fred, who were both arrested.
“We have banned, and will ban, the propaganda of sexual minorities' opinions because they can be one of the factors in the spread of HIV infection,” Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said at a December 4, 2008 conference in Moscow titled HIV/AIDS in Developed Countries.