Chicago activist traveling to Russia

To participate in Moscow Gay Pride

May 12, 2009

Andy Thayer
CHICAGO — Gay Liberation Network (GLN) co-founder Andy Thayer is traveling to Russia this week to join other activists in Moscow's fourth annual gay pride action on May 16. In October 2007 GLN hosted the first-ever U.S. speaking engagement by Moscow Pride's principal organizer, Nikolai Alekseev ( Thayer's trip to Moscow is in part about repaying that favor and is being funded in part by GLN.

This year the event in Moscow is dubbed "Slavic Pride," denoting the much broader participation of LGBT's from around the region. "International participation is helpful in giving visibility to the courageous actions of Moscow LGBT's," said Thayer, "especially since the Russian government has clamped down on much independent political activity and on most independent news sources inside the country."

As in previous years, Moscow authorities have refused to issue a permit for this year's pride event and threatened to arrest all of the participants. Moscow police chief Vladmir Pronin on March 8 told the Russian news agency Interfax that gay pride parades in the capital are "unacceptable – gay pride parades shouldn’t be allowed "

“No one will dare to do it, such 'brave-heart' will be torn to shreds,” he added. “The West can say we’re bad guys, but our people will see it is right. Our country is patriarchal, that’s [sic] sums it up... I positively agree with the Church, with the Patriarch, politicians, especially with [Mayor] Luzhkov, who are convinced that man and woman should love each other. It is established by God and nature."

However, Slavic Pride organizers have vowed to move forward with this year's Pride event despite the police chief's threats.

“Mr Pronin already showed his incompetency last year when his services were unable to prevent us unveiling a banner directed against the Mayor, right opposite his office,” said Alekseev. The main pride event successfully took place nearby at the monument to the famous Russian gay composer, Peter Tchkaivosky, while the authorities and neo-fascists were hoodwinked into thinking that it would take place outside of the mayor's office.

Both the Tverskoi District Court and the Moscow City Court have banned 167 gay rights events in Moscow, and all of these bans have been appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, which has delayed for up to four years any ruling on the appeals.

"It's not hard to see the cynical hand of geopolitics at work in the West European-dominated court's refusal to do anything yet for Russian LGBT's," said Thayer. "Much of Western Europe's natural gas supplies come from Russia, and the West European governments by their inaction have shown that they prefer Russian gas supplies over the right to freedom of assembly and other justice for Russian LGBT's. In the meantime, Russian LGBT's are not waiting for any outside saviors – they are organizing for their own rights, which is always the principal way rights have been won, regardless of country."

“The fight for Moscow Pride is very symptomatic of the fight for Human Rights values in this country,” concluded Alekseev.

For a recent English language Moscow Pride news release on the event, click hereIssued by Gay Liberation Network

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