Moscow Gay Pride organizers take mayor to court for 'satanic' insults

February 28, 2007

Story by UK Gay News

MOSCOW — Organizers of the first ever gay pride festival in Moscow Nikolai Baev and Nikolai Alekseev are to sue Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov in Tverskoi district court of Russian capital.

The move is to “protect the dignity” of the organizers following the statement by Luzhkov last month that gay parades are nothing else but “satanic happenings."

During his speech at the 15th Christmas Readings at the Kremlin on January 29, the mayor said: “Last year Moscow was aghast at unprecedented pressure in order to allow a gay parade, which can not be called in a different way than a satanic happening. We did not allow this parade and will not allow in the future.”

In their claim to Tverskoi district court the claimants say that according to the notification sent to the Moscow Mayor on May 15 2006, they are the official organizers of Moscow gay parade. Thus, the statements of Luzhkov about the gay parades as “satanic happenings” characterize the actions of the claimants.

According to the Dictionary of Russian language by S. Ozhegov, the word “satanic” means “insult towards a person” which has definitely negative meaning.

The organizers of the pride are claiming that, “in the context of Luzhkov’s speech, this characteristic was used with the aim to show immoral, unethical essence of the actions of gay pride organizers”.

Moscow Pride organizers are asking the court to force Luzhkov to withdraw his insulting statements about the claimants as well as to pay 2,000 roubles (about Ł40, €60, $US80).

Baev said this morning that he is convinced that the representatives of Russian authorities are, unfortunately, frequently making insulting statements towards LGBT people.

“Defamation and stigmatization of sexual minorities have become widespread in Russia – as if to insult and distribute libel against huge number of people is something completely normal,” he suggested.

“The insulting statement of Luzhkov against the organizers of Gay Pride is part of the system of widespread defamation of homosexuals which is used by Russian politicians, public figures and journalists.

“I am convinced that our court claim will become very important precedent in the fight against insults directed at homosexual people in Russia,” he continued.

“I would be very glad if other LGBT citizens followed our example and also fought for their dignity using all lawful means, including in courts.”

Alekseev said that “he had announced his intention to protect his dignity against Luzhkov’s “satanic” statements the day they were aired. Now the claim is ready and we sent it to Tverskoi district court”.

“The Moscow Mayor insulted me, as one of the organizers of the illegally banned gay pride march, not only as a citizen of this country but also as a believer. Both in secular and religious understanding the term “satanic” is an insult and has negative meaning.

“An official of such a high standing as the Mayor of Moscow has no right to insult people using such words,” he added.

On January 29 organizers of Moscow Gay Pride sent an official complaint against Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights. They claim that by banning gay pride march and picket the authorities breached a number of rights guaranteed by the European Convention.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is infamous for his intolerant and insulting statements towards homosexual people.

In February last year he called homosexual relations “unnatural for human nature”. On May 26, the day before the first gay pride, the mayor called homosexual relations immoral. He said that: “morals work here. If someone has deviations from normal principles of one’s life is the sphere of sex and gender it should not be publicly displayed”.

Banning a gay pride Moscow Mayor also appealed to the views of religious organizations and Russian Orthodox Church in particular.

It is expected that the claim to Moscow’s Tverskoi district court by the two Gay Pride organizers will be heard before the date of the next Pride scheduled for Sunday May 27.

Last year on May 26 the same Tverskoi district court of Moscow confirmed the legality of the decision of Moscow Mayor to ban the pride march. The judge, Marina Gorbacheva, who presided in the case and announced the decision, was later sacked for unspecified reasons. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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