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Moscow mayor will ban Pride 2010 - LGBT activists promise to march anyway
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Moscow mayor will ban Pride 2010 - LGBT activists promise to march anyway

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov told a January 23 education conference he would never allow a Gay Pride parade in his city.

'A Gay parade & cannot be called anything but a Satanic act,' he said. 'We haven't permitted such a parade and we won't permit it in the future. Everyone needs to accept this as an axiom.'

'It's high time we stop messing around with talk about human rights, and bring to bear on them the full force and justice of the law," he added. "We need a social whip or something like that, not a liberal ginger cake.'

Gay activist Nikolai Alekseev told reporters that the 2010 Gay Pride parade will go ahead despite the ban.

"We don't plan to make any changes. We still plan to hold a Gay parade on May 29," Alekseev said.

"There was nothing in Luzhkov's speech that we haven't heard before," Alekseev added. "All the same medieval and homophobic rhetoric, under the obscurantist sauce."

According to Alekseev, Moscow's LGBT community will rely on the protection of international law.

"Our axiom is much stronger than Luzhkov's because ours is based on the law and the European Convention on Human Rights," he said.

Moscow's Pride parade has been officially banned since it was first organized by Alekseev in 2006. The 2006, 2007, and 2008 parades were all disrupted by anti-Gay attacks launched by a coalition of neo-Nazis, Russian nationalists, and Russian Muslim groups.

The first "Slavic Pride" took place in 2009, with Belarusians joining the Moscow march. British activists Peter Tatchell and Andy Thayer also traveled to Moscow to participate.

While parade organizers avoided confrontation with anti-Gay gangs by changing the parade route at the last minute, 20 LGBT activists, including Alekseev and Tatchell, were arrested by Moscow police.

The arrests turned into a public relations disaster for Luzhkov and the Russian government, since at the time Moscow was full of international media covering the Eurovision music contest finals.

A complaint based on these arrests and the previous bans will be heard next month by the European Court of Human Rights. As a member state of the Council of Europe, Russia will be bound by the court's decision.

Russia has until February 20 to respond to the complaint.

Slavic Pride 2010 will take place on May 15 in Minsk, Belarus, and Moscow Pride is scheduled for May 29.

Like many former Communists, Yuri Luzhkov flipped to extreme traditionalist views after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. He is on friendly terms with the Russian Orthodox hierarchy, and in 2005 won an award from the Orthodox International Fund of Unity.

Nikolai Alekseev is currently lead organizer of Moscow Pride and the head of the Russian LGBT Rights Project.

He was expelled from Moscow State University in 2001 when the postgraduate program refused to accept his work on sexual minorities in Russia as valid scientific research. He published the material as a book - Legal Regulation of the Status of Sexual Minorities: Russia in the Light of International Organisations' Practice and Legislation of Other Countries - in 2002.

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