Accessibility links

Police, Antigay Protesters Break Up Gay Rally


http://gdb.rferl.org/5ABB6DC4-DACB-41CC-AC6B-A7D4F13B0EAC_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/5ABB6DC4-DACB-41CC-AC6B-A7D4F13B0EAC_mw800_mh600.jpg Nationalist counterdemonstrators shout homophobic slogans at gay protesters in Moscow today (RFE/RL) MOSCOW, May 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Police, Russian Orthodox believers, and ultra-nationalists today prevented gays and lesbians from holding Moscow’s first-ever gay-pride parade.


Police arrested gay activist Nikolai Alekseyev, the driving force behind the march, and a handful of homosexual activists as they attempted to lay flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier -- a symbol of Russia’s victory against fascism in World War II -- outside the Kremlin walls. In all, about 40 people participated in the action.


But police closed the gates to the park and a group of Russian Orthodox protesters and shave-headed nationalists charged into the activists as they arrived, punching and kicking them and shouting homophobic slogans such as "death to pederasts!"


A few people were injured in the clash, including a member of Germany's Bundestag, Volker Beck, who was beaten up by a group of nationalist youths as he was giving a television interview.


Gay-rights activists were then planning to gather outside Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov’s office.


"We are conducting a peaceful action," Alekseyev told a press conference shortly before the rally. "We want to show that we have the same rights as other citizens."


The city issued an order prohibiting the parade, and that decision was upheld by a district court yesterday.


The AP quoted Luzhkov as saying during a radio interview on May 26 that gay-pride parades "may be acceptable for some kind of progressive, in some sense, countries in the West, but it is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, for Russia."


"As long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades to be conducted," Luzhkov said.


Parade organizer Nikolai Alekseyev (courtesy photo)

Efforts to stage the parade, planned to fall on the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia, have been met with fierce resistance.


When Luzhkov first banned the march, he said the event would "provoke outrage in society." His spokesman added that any attempt to flout the ban would be "resolutely quashed."


Russia's religious community has also been vocal in its opposition to the parade.


The Moscow Patriarchate condemned it as a "glorification of sin." Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, warned against "homosexual propaganda." Top Muslim cleric Talgat Tadzhuddin called on believers to "bash" gays if they take to the streets.


MORE: To read RFE/RL's Russian Service coverage of the parade issue in Russia, click here.

Moscow, May 27, 2006

'ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE FOR MOSCOW': On May 27, gay activists attempted to hold a peaceful demonstration in Moscow. Earlier , the AP quoted Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov as saying that gay-pride parades "may be acceptable for some kind of progressive, in some sense, countries in the West, but it is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, for Russia."
"As long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades to be conducted," Luzhkov said.
RFE/RL Moscow correspondent Claire Bigg attended the demonstration and filed these sounds and images.


LISTEN

Listen to the sounds of the demonstration (about 90 seconds):
Real Audio Windows Media

Riot police rushing to the scene of the wreath-laying near the Kremlin wall (RFE/RL)

Antigay counterprotesters fired flares into the street in order to prevent the gays from marching (RFE/RL)

Nationalist youths shouted homophobic slogans such as "death to pederasts!" (RFE/RL)

Riot police arresting some of the antigay counterdemonstrators (RFE/RL)

A police officer detaining an antigay counterdemonstrator (RFE/RL)



SUBSCRIBE

For a regular review of civil-society developments throughout RFE/RL's broadcast region, subscribe to "RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies."

XS
SM
MD
LG