Russian gay activist vows to fight on

November 14, 2006

Nicolai Alekseev
LONDON — The Russian gay activist Nicolai Alekseev has vowed to fight on after Moscow Pride 2006 was officially banned by Moscow's mayor and the protest about this was disrupted.

In a moving and inspiring speech to his audience at the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association's annual lunch in London on Saturday, Alekseev described the hostility which participants in Moscow Pride 2006 had to face from a coalition of fascist thugs and Orthodox Christian religionsts. He said they had been "bloodied but unbowed" and would certainly be back with a vengeance in 2007. Given time, he predicted, the situation for LGBT people in Russia would be as favourable as it is now in Western European countries. His speech was received with an ecstatic ovation and he was presented with an award in recognition of "his courage in challenging homophobia in Russia and beyond".

Later Alekseev expressed his delight at the recognition expressed by Sir Elton John in The Observer Music Monthly that in countries such as Poland, Latvia and Russia "there is a huge anti-gay movement and a lot of it is started by the Church", and that he, Jake Shears of the Scissors Sisters, and the Pet Shop Boys, should play a Gay Pride concert in Russia.

A lawyer who lives and works in Moscow, Alekseev is the founder and head of Project Gay Russia and the executive secretary of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). He has been actively challenging homophobia in Russia for the last four years and took a leading role in the planning of Moscow Pride. He has also has been very active in campaigns in other Eastern European countries, notably Latvia.

The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) flew him in from Moscow to speak at its public meeting concerning homophobia in Eastern Europe on 10 November and its annual lunch as guest-of-honour and keynote speaker on 11 November.

At the meeting, which was held at London's Conway Hall, he was joined on the panel of speakers by journalist Andy Harley, GALHA's Derek Lennard, the UK co-ordinator for the International Day Against Homophobia, Peter Tatchell of OutRage! and Jason Pollock, the executive director of London Pride. – Issued by The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association

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