Religious and far right groups threaten violent reponses...
Tatchell defies Moscow gay ban
Moscow Mayor threatens mass arrests
Religious leaders pledge violent counter-protests
Threats will not stop Russia’s first Gay Pride march
London – 25 May 2006
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will join Russian gay activists
and defy a ban on this Saturday's Gay Pride march in Moscow.
Despite the Moscow mayor's threat of mass arrests, and the threat of
violence from nationalist and religious leaders, Tatchell and other
international human rights activists will join the historic first Gay
Pride march in Russian history. It will take place this Saturday, 27
May, which is the thirteenth anniversary of the 1993 abolition of
Soviet-era laws against male homosexuality.
The Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, has banned the gay parade and is
threatening to also outlaw the parallel gay rights conference and
Mr Luzhkov says he will not allow a Gay Pride parade "in any form" and
that any attempt to march in the streets will be "resolutely
The Mayor's diktat follows inflammatory statements by the leader of
Russia's Muslims, which threatened violence if the planned Moscow Gay
Pride parade goes ahead. Condemnations of gay people and the gay
parade have also been made by Russia's Chief Rabbi and the leaders of
the Russian Orthodox Church.
Announcing the parade ban, the Mayor's office said last week: "This
march can provoke the wave of protest actions which can lead to group
breaches of public order and mass disturbances…the application for the
march is not agreed on."
Mr Tatchell and his gay human rights group, OutRage!, have condemned
"The Mayor of Moscow says he supports democracy. We ask him to prove
it by giving the go ahead to Moscow Gay Pride. Democracy means
respecting the rights of minorities.
"Who does Luzhkov think he is? Joseph Stalin? Someone should remind
the Mayor that the anti-gay Soviet Union is dead. Russia is now a
democracy and in a democracy people have a right to protest
"These attempts by the Russian state to suppress Moscow Gay Pride are
a throwback to the bad old days of czarist and communist
totalitarianism. Threats and intimidation by the Mayor of Moscow will
not stop the gay freedom struggle in Russia. The right to sexual
self-determination and the right to protest are fundamental human
rights that every democratic nation must respect.
"The ban on Moscow Gay Pride is a violation of the Russian
constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, assembly and the
right to peaceful protest. Russian gay activists are currently
challenging the ban in their own courts. If necessary, they will
appeal to the European Court of Human Rights,” said Mr Tatchell.
Much of the anti-gay sentiment that is sweeping Russia has been
whipped up by religious leaders.
Threatening violence against Moscow Gay Pride, the Chief Mufti of
Russia’s Central Spiritual Governance for Muslims, Talgat Tajuddin,
said: “Muslim protests can be even worse than these notorious rallies
abroad over the scandalous cartoons.”
"The parade should not be allowed, and if they still come out into the
streets, then they should be bashed. Sexual minorities have no rights,
because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime
against God," he said.
Mr Tajuddin called on Russian Orthodox Church members to join Muslims
in mounting a violent response to Moscow Pride.
A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, which also urged the
Moscow Mayor to ban the parade, spoke out against Moscow Pride,
telling media outlets that homosexuality is a "sin which destroys
human beings and condemns them to a spiritual death."
Not to be left out, Russian Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, said that if a
gay pride parade was allowed to go ahead it would be "a blow for
morality". He stopped short of calling for violence, but warned that
the Jewish community would not stand by silently. "Sexual
perversions", he said, did not have a right to exist. Lazar said that
gay pride marches were "a provocation” similar to cartoon depictions
Many well known gay rights campaigners from around the world will
attend Moscow Gay Pride. Other prominent attendees include the Deputy
Mayor of Paris and several members of the European Parliament.
Over 250 representatives from more than 30 countries will participate
in the simultaneous Moscow International Gay Festival from 25 to 27
May. This festival will feature a series of lectures by Merlin
Holland, the grandson of Oscar Wilde.
Moscow Pride takes place a week after the start of the Russian
Presidency in the Council of Europe and just before the summit of G8
leaders in St Petersburg. President Putin has not commented on the
banning of Moscow Pride or on the threats of violence from religious
For further information:
Peter Tatchell is in Moscow for the Gay Pride conference and parade
from 25 to 29 May inclusive.
He can be contacted via the main Moscow Gay Pride organiser, Nikolai
Alexeyev, on +7 916 255-8240, or via Nikolai Baev on +7 916 377-5461
You can also try to contact Peter Tatchell via email: