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Moscow bans gay pride for century ahead

Published time: June 07, 2012 10:26
Edited time: June 07, 2012 22:57
A gay rights activist takes part in a gay pride parade near the headquarters of Moscow city Duma in central Moscow May 27, 2012. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

A gay rights activist takes part in a gay pride parade near the headquarters of Moscow city Duma in central Moscow May 27, 2012. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

Moscow city court has upheld a decision to turn down the LGBT activists’ request for permission to hold gay pride parades for the next 100 years.

Earlier, Tverskoy district court ruled lawful the decision of the Moscow municipal government to ban public events that can be qualified as gay parades from March 2012 till May 2112.

Nikolay Alekseyev, one of the leaders of the Russian LGBT community and organizer of gay pride events, told reporters that he intended to appeal the decision in the Moscow City Court Presidium, and that if the highest Russian instance also rules against him, to address the European Court of Human Rights.

Alekseyev explained to the reporters that in 2011, the activists found a loophole in Russian legislation and submitted requests for 102 gay pride parades to the Moscow Mayor’s office. According to the activist, all they got in return was a letter with a quote from regulations, although the law obliges the city authorities to either allow or ban the planned event within 15 days.

At the same time, Alekseyev admitted that he and his comrades never hoped to actually receive a license for the parade but simply needed a formal excuse to turn to the European Human Rights Court.

“They refuse our requests every time, but in Strasbourg they recognize these rulings as unlawful. But time does not stand still, we ask for a new event and again they refuse us,” the activist noted.

On one occasion, though, Muscovite gay rights activists found a way to the streets – after they quibbled the authorities to get access. About 70 people marched on one of Moscow’s quays under rainbow banners in early June and managed to hold a two-hour rally calling for freedom of assembly and organization for sexual minorities.

The rally was not officially announced as a gay pride event, as the organizers initially applied for a permit to hold “a rally against all types of discrimination.”

This year the Russian government started an active campaign against so-called gay propaganda – a special law was approved and signed into force in St. Petersburg, prompting a group of parliamentarians to suggest approving a similar law on a nationwide scale. Two people have already been brought to justice in St. Petersburg for displaying a poster reading “Being gay is normal” in the street near a kindergarten.

The bill has been widely criticized by Russia's LGBT and human rights activists as well as international human rights groups. Protest rallies by Russian consulates took place in many countries throughout the world.

After the first reading of the legislation Amnesty International urged St. Petersburg’s lawmakers to stop the adoption of the “inhumane” bill. The US State Department has also criticized the document.

Many legal experts have declared that the legislation is so vague that it is impossible to distinguish where one’s private life ends and propaganda begins, so anyone can be brought to trial for breaking the law.

American show business legend Madonna revealed herself as an outspoken critic of the controversial bill. On her Facebook page the singer announced that during her concert scheduled for this summer in St. Petersburg she will “speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels oppressed.”

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