Two major gay community events are scheduled this spring in Moscow – an LGBT film festival is kicking off this week, while a large Pride march is set for May 27. RT talked to one of the events’ manager.
The "Side by Side" LGBT Film Festival, opening in Moscow April 26-30, features a range of movies and documentaries and as discussions related to gay rights in Russia.
“The objective of the festival is to create a dialogue with society,” the festival's founder, Manny de Guerre, told RT. “We want to talk about gay and lesbian issues that aren’t talked much about in public. Statistics show that twenty-nine per cent of our audience is not LGBT.”
Founded in 2007 in St. Petersburg, the festival first caused a major scandal and was banned. It took the organizers years to work out an understanding with the authorities.
“On the eve of 2007 fest, the emergencies service closed down the venue we rented,” de Guerre said. “But we managed to create a major base of support of the festival, and in 2009 it finally took place. Last year was one of our most successful.”
Meanwhile, Russia's gay community is planning to stage a large Pride march in Moscow on May 27. The date marks 19 years since homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia.
The parade will also function as a protest against recent anti-gay legislation adopted in various Russian regions. Moscow's authorities are currently debating whether to introduce a law banning the promotion of homosexual lifestyles in the presence of children.
St. Petersburg is among the regions that have already introduced fines for the spread of so-called gay propaganda. LGBT activists in Russia call the law "homophobic," and say it violates their human rights.
Organizing pride parades has long been a big problem among activists in Russia’s gay community. In Moscow, they have been unsuccessfully applying for permission to hold a parade for several years – with former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov branding them "satanic" on one occasion.
With Luzhkov replaced by Sergey Sobyanin, the LGBT community hoped for change, but the new mayor deemed such events in the capital to be “unnecessary.”
In July 2011, Russia paid 30,000 euros in compensation to gay activists over its decision to ban so-called pride marches. The fine was issued by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that the decision to repeatedly ban gay pride parades in 2006, 2007 and 2008 was unlawful.
The European ruling, however, did not help: the last attempted gay pride effort was dispersed by police in Moscow in May of 2011. More than 60 people, both supporters of LGBT rights and their opponents, were detained.
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