Moscow mayor vetoes Gay Pride bid in Russia amid violent threats

Ross von Metzke | February 20, 2006

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov
MOSCOW, Russia — Following months of speculation, as expected, plans to stage Russia's first gay pride parade have been vetoed by Moscow's city government on the grounds that the idea has caused �outrage� in society.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's administration announced it would not even consider an application for a parade, which prompted Russian gay activists to threaten legal action in the European Court of Human Rights.

Gay and lesbian activists have been campaigning for months for permission to stage the country's first gay pride event May 27.

That date marks the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia. But the proposed plans have been met with a furious reaction from religious leaders and been condemned as �suicidal� by other gay activists. Earlier this week, Police Chief Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin warned that Russia's Muslims would stage violent protests if the march went ahead.

�If they come out on to the streets anyway they should be flogged,� Tadzhuddin said, according to The Independent. �Any normal person would do that - Muslims and Orthodox Christians alike... (The protests) might be even more intense than protests abroad against those controversial cartoons."

The Russian Orthodox Church has called homosexuality �the propaganda of sin.� Bishop Daniil of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk likened homosexuality to leprosy. Passages in the Koran suggest homosexuality should be punished by death.

In the Communist era, Russian homosexuals were jailed for five years and their "condition" was classed as a mental disorder. In post-Soviet Russia, public acceptance of homosexuality has been varied. An opinion poll last year showed 43 per cent of Russians believed gay men should be incarcerated.

Nikolai Alekseev, head of GayRussia.Ru and one of the parade�s organizers, said banning such meetings was a criminal offense. He said the organiszrs were considering going to the European Court of Human Rights. He said preparations will continue and an official application will be made in May. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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