Moscow's mayor, who has banned gay rights parades in the past, vowed Thursday to continue his ban on what he called sexual minority propaganda
, according to Russian news agencies.
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has called homosexuality satanic , said City Hall has banned, and will continue to ban, the propaganda of the views of sexual minorities. Those views, he is quoted as saying, could become one of the factors for
the spread of HIV.
City Hall has rejected repeated requests by public organizations to draw attention to gay rights with parades. Attempts by activists to defy the ban have ended violently in some cases and petered out in others.
A gay parade planned to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest, hosted by the Russian capital, has been banned by Moscow because it will destroy morals , a spokesman for the city's Mayor said.
The Moscow government is saying: Moscow has never had gay parades and it never will, said Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's spokesman, Sergei Tsoi. Not only do they destroy morals within our society, but they consciously provoke disorder.
Parade organiser Nikolai Alekseyev said the event would take place: This is our right and it is guaranteed by the constitution. No official, including the Moscow Mayor, has the right to violate it.
But Mr Luzhkov's spokesman said any attempts to hold an unsanctioned gay parade would be toughly stopped by law enforcement agencies in accordance with the law.
Riot police in Moscow ruthlessly broke up a peaceful gay rights protest, at times using violence to detain the participants. The city authorities had banned the march, timed to coincide with the supposedly gay-friendly Eurovision Song Contest, but around
30 activists decided to protest anyway, changing the venue at the last minute.
They gathered near Moscow's main university, chanting slogans and unveiling banners protesting against homophobia in Russian society. Most of the demonstrators, including the organiser, Nikolai Alexeev, and British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell,
were bundled into police vans and driven away. The city's mayor has previously referred to gays as Satanists and the authorities claimed the march had been banned to prevent moral degradation.
Tatchell was released without charge in the afternoon after the British Embassy requested consular access to him, but most of the other participants in the gay demonstration were still being held by police.
A planned gay rights parade will not be able to take place in Moscow after the usual ruling by its mayor, Yuri Lushkov, the Itar
Tass news agency reported .
Lushkov, who has taken anti-gay stances in the past, called the Gay Parade a blasphemy as he announced that he would not let it go forward as planned in Europe's biggest city.
We have never approved this kind of parade before and we are not going to do it in the future, said Lushkov, who said he was exercising the will of Muscovites. He also pronounced rallies and demonstrations by gay and lesbian groups as
Organisers of last year's first-ever Moscow Gay Pride have today formally taken their case of the ban by the authorities
in the Russian capital of both a parade and a picket to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
This follows the unsuccessful appeals against the bans through the Russian court system, which are now exhausted, as far as requirements of European Court's jurisprudence are concerned.
The organizers are considering appealing pride bans to the Russian Supreme Court parallel to their European Court application though it will not effect the consideration of the case in Strasbourg.
At the same time, Moscow Pride organisers announced that this year's Moscow Pride will definitely be going ahead, and that an application for a parade will be made in accordance with Russian law, two weeks before the event, scheduled for Sunday
May 27, the day in 1993 when homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia.
The application to the European Court of Human Rights combines two cases: one concerning the ban by Moscow authorities of the gay pride march and the second concerning the banning of the alternative pride picket, both scheduled for May 27, 2006.
In the application, the litigants claim that in denying permission to stage both the march and the picket the Russian Federation breached Article 11 (right to freedom of peaceful assembly), Article 13 (right to effective court protection) and Article
14 (discrimination ban) in conjunction with Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Russia is a signatory.
Moscow police have detained several gay rights opponents at the first sanctioned gay rights protest in years, marking a sharp reversal of
policy after last week's dismissal of the city's notoriously intolerant mayor.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov had compared gay people to the devil, and gay rights rallies in Moscow were forbidden. Many went ahead regardless and were violently dispersed under his leadership. He was fired this week after President Dmitry Medvedev said he
had lost faith in him.
Two dozen activists protested Friday outside Swiss International Air Line's Moscow office against the carrier's alleged role in the kidnapping of the leader of Russia's gay rights movement, which sparked concern in Western Europe.
Nikolai Alexeyev is widely known in the international gay rights movement for his repeated efforts to organize parades in Moscow. Alexeyev alleges the airline removed him from a boarding gate at Domodedovo Airport at the behest of four unidentified men,
not in uniform, who took him to a police station.
Alexeyev was to board a flight to Geneva but instead was taken to the nearby town of Kashira and, he told The Associated Press, insulted with all the slang words for homosexuals in the dictionary and commanded to withdraw complaints filed against
Russia at the European Court of Human Rights
On Friday, Alexeyev and the other activists held aloft posters accusing the Swiss airline of complicity in kidnapping, while police arrested at least four protesters trying to sabotage their rally.
The police worked professionally, and we are thankful to them, said Alexeyev, who has been roughed up and detained several times by police in the past. They protected us.
A rally against gay parades, legalization of same-sex marriages and immorality propaganda gathered some 1,000 protesters on Bolotnaya Square in central Moscow.
The rally was organized by a number of Orthodox organizations and began with a prayer. Many people carried icons and signs reading We do not need gay parades! , A gay parade will never be held in Moscow , and others.
The rally followed the recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that Moscow's ban on gay pride marches is illegal.
Vladimir Khomyakov, a co-chairman of the Narodny Sobor (People's Gathering) Orthodox organization, said, Despite the stories about our belligerent homophobia, we have never urged and are not urging to destroy gay clubs and attack gays. We have come to
claim that the ECHR ruling is a gross interference in Russia's domestic affairs and a violation of the Russian constitution and international law.
Moscow city officials have rejected an application for a gay pride parade to be held in the city center later this month, claiming
a risk of public disorder, organizers said.
Gay rights activists had applied to hold a parade called Moscow Gay Parade: Homosexuality in the History of World Culture and Civilization, which they expected would draw more than 5,000 people to a city park near the Kremlin on May 28.
Previous attempts to hold a sanctioned parade have been banned and violently broken up.
Former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, who was fired in September, called gay pride events satanic. His successor Sergei Sobyanin has allowed opposition activists to hold authorized demonstrations, and there were hopes that he would sanction
But on Tuesday, the group led by prominent gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev received a letter from city council saying that Moscow city government considers it is justified in not permitting the announced event to go ahead, organizers
said in a statement, AFP reports.
The letter reportedly said that public gatherings could be banned to keep order, preserve morality or protect the rights and freedoms of others. Moscow authorities said they had received letters from religious and traditional groups threatening
protests if the event was not banned.
Alexeyev told the Associated Press that this was the sixth time authorities had refused the request for a rally, and that activists would go ahead with a peaceful demonstration despite the ban.
Moscow police have detained three prominent foreign gay rights leaders and a number of local activists after religious extremists
The gay group had planned to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall.
A group of ultra-Orthodox Christians attacked the protesters, who were waving rainbow flags and some carrying signs reading Russia is not Iran , and preparing to stage the unauthourised demonstration.
Police moved in and wrestled both activists and members of the religious group to the ground before leading them off in handcuffs to waiting security vans.
Those detained included French gay rights activist Louis-Georges Tin and the US's Dan Choi and Andy Thayer. British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that the police tried to lead him away as well but that he had managed to break free.
A Moscow police representative told Moscow Echo radio that 34 activists had been detained within the first minutes of the rally.
Tatchell claimed to have seen three police buses packed with people who looked like skinheads and neo-Nazis parked outside the Moscow mayor's office: Our suspicion is that they were police officers in civilian clothes. We suspect that
a sizeable portion of the neo-Nazis were actually undercover police officers .
Update: Church thanks Russian state for beating up gay pride participants
The Russian Orthodox Church is grateful to the Moscow city authorities and law enforcers for
preventing a gay parade attempted in the city last Saturday.
Responding to questions from Interfax-Religion on Monday, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said the authorities quite politely prevented an instance of propaganda of homosexuality which
could have been witnessed by children and teenagers who crowded the two venues of the action.
He expressed hope that in the future the authorities of Russia and Moscow in similar cases will listen to the voice of their own people, the majority of whom do not accept the propaganda of homosexuality, instead of foreign pressure that was
exerted before the action and continues now.
The clergyman said that on the basis of an absolutely clear moral choice of the people Russia can restrict any propaganda actions. I am deeply convinced of that. International organizations and especially the governments of countries
with whom we have different histories and different social systems should realize that, Father Vsevolod said.
He added that he found the beatings on Saturday 'regrettable'.
Moreover, he admitted that he had never heard of the Orthodox Brotherhood blamed for the beatings. It is the first time that I have heard about such an organization. I wonder whether it was set up for provocative purposes, Father Vsevolod
Madonna said in a Facebook posting that she plans to speak out against a new anti-gay law in St. Petersburg during her August 9 concert in the city. Now, it seems she could actually be charged under that same law.
The law, which took effect March 11, in part prohibits the propaganda of homosexuality among minors. Gay rights activists say it would criminalize reading, writing or speaking about gay, lesbian, or transgender people.
The bill's author, city assemblyman Vitaly Milanov, says he wants Madonna charged under the new law if she speaks out against it during her concert. He said he was willing to attend the show to control its moral content.
A group of Russian gay rights advocates plans to picket the concert, saying Madonna is cashing in on their struggle and urging her to cancel the show. The law will stay in force, Madonna will leave and the Russian LGBT-community will be humiliated
even more, Nikolai Aleksev, the head of the LGBT advocacy group Gay Russia, wrote on his blog.
Other Russian gay rights groups disagreed with that tactic, and welcomed the attention the superstar had given to their cause. We consider that Madonna's visit and her address to millions of her Russian fans with words in support of freedom of
expression for everyone will bring more good than a boycott would, said Igor Kochetkov, chairman of the Russian LGBT Network.
Two Russian men have been arrested for illegally engaging in pro-gay propaganda, in the first-ever enforcement of a homophobic new law that bans making statements supporting homosexuality in public.
Police in St Petersburg arrested the pair as they were standing in a central district of Russia's second-largest city and holding up placards reading Homosexuality is normal. i
This St Petersburg law banning favourable comments about homosexuality is a shame. This law is absolutely discriminatory and it takes away the right to freedom of expression and assembly from citizens of non-traditional orientations, said Tatyana
Lokshina, spokeswoman for the NGO Human Rights Watch.
Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseyev has been fined 5,000 roubles (104 GBP) under a St. Petersburg law for spreading gay propaganda among minors. The fine was imposed after the court ruled that Alekseyev had spread propaganda about
homosexual relations among minors when he held a sign in a public place last month that stated homosexuality was not a perversion. Alekseyev has pledged to appeal the ruling
17 gay rights activists were arrested at a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia. The group that was detained were trying to unfold rainbow flags and raise posters. They were charged with failing to co-operate with police officers.
St. Petersburg recently passed a law that bans homosexual propaganda , becoming the 4th city in Russia to pass such a law. Politicians are attempting to pass similar legislation at a federal level, with pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church.
Please tell the Russian government to drop all charges against these gay rights activists -- who were simply fighting against discrimination and hatred -- and not pass a federal law that will severely hurt gay rights.
Around 40 people were arrested in Moscow on Sunday after gay activists demanding the right to hold a gay pride parade in the Russian capital clashed with Orthodox Christians protesting against homosexuality.
Gay rights activists first gathered outside the city council building where counter-demonstrators proclaimed that homosexuality is a sin. Police quickly moved in to try and prevent violence between the two groups. Gay rights activists regrouped for a
second protest at city hall, where more people were arrested.
Police put the number of those detained at around 40 people, and revealed that although the majority were gay activists, Christian demonstrators were also arrested.
Gay rights activists have been angry at the government for denying them permission to stage a gay pride parade in the nation's capital. Former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov described gay parades as satanic, while Sergei Sobyanin, the current mayor,
has claimed that gay pride parades could offend the religious beliefs of many Russians.
Human Rights First condemns the Tverskoy District Court ruling to uphold the decision of Moscow authorities to ban gay pride parades in the city until May 2112. The Moscow City Hall has banned such events for seven consecutive years, citing numerous
letters from public officials, religious organizations, and private citizens urging the authorities to prohibit a demonstration. The European Court of Human Rights pronounced these bans illegal in October 2010.
Human Rights First's Innokenty Grekov said:
This unprecedented ban is not entirely surprising, but Russia's society is evolving at a pace not even Vladimir Putin can control. More people are becoming accepting and tolerant to LGBTI persons. The 100-year ban, along with the discriminatory laws
prohibiting promotion of homosexuality that are spreading through local legislatures, show that the Russian government remains behind the times.
It is regrettable that the new city government, led by Mayor Sobyanin, is repeating the mistakes of the disgruntled former mayor Luzhkov, whose vehemently antigay rhetoric and actions are well-known.
An organization of St. Petersburg gay rights activists has filed a complaint against the city's authorities with the European Court
of Human Rights in Strasbourg, local media has reporte.
The Ravnopravie ('Equality') organization has appealed to the Strasbourg court to rule against the city's ban of a gay pride parade in June 2011 and described the authorities' actions as disguised discrimination.
Despite the ban, a small group of gay rights activists staged an unsanctioned rally on June 25, 2011 and 14 of them were detained and convicted of administrative violations.
The Ravnopravie organization also intends to appeal against the authorities' decision to revoke their permission to hold a gay pride rally planned for July 7, 2012.
St. Petersburg's Legislative Assembly passed a law penalizing the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors in late February. It came into effect on March 11. The so-called Gay Propaganda law imposes fines of up to $16,000
on individuals and up to $160,000 on legal entities for the promotion of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender practices among minors. The new legislation outlaws Gay Pride events.
Moscow's top court has upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital for the next 100 years.
Earlier Russia's best-known gay rights campaigner, Nikolay Alexeyev, had gone to court hoping to overturn the city council's ban on gay parades. He had asked for the right to stage such parades for the next 100 years.
He said he would now go back to the European Court in Strasbourg to push for a recognition that Moscow's ban on gay pride marches - past, present and future - was unjust.
The Moscow city government claims that the gay parade would risk causing public disorder and that most Muscovites do not support such an event.
In September, the Council of Europe will examine Russia's response to a previous European Court ruling on the gay rights issue, Russian media report.
Charges that Madonna broke a homophobic censorship ban in the Russian city of St Petersburg have been dropped.
Homophobic activists had tried to prosecute the US singer over accusations that she violated St Petersburg's law on the promotion of homosexuality among minors.
The nutter prosecution resulted after Madonna spoke out against the ban on stage and handed out pink bracelets. She also issued a message of support for the imprisoned LGBT-supporting feminist punk protestors of Pussy Riot.
The Trade Union of Russian Citizens demanded £ 6 million from Madonna and from the company that organised her show.
However on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported that the case had been dismissed by a St Petersburg court. Madonna did not attend the hearing, which had attracted intense media attention in Russia.
Elsewhere in Russia, regional lawmakers in Moscow rejected a homophobic censorship law similar to St Petersburg's. The failed bill attempted to outlaw: non-traditional sexual orientation propaganda to minors.
Russia's Parliament has backed a bill which outlaws the propaganda of homosexuality among minors in a move that will restrict fundamental human
rights and is in breach of the country's international obligations to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from discrimination, Amnesty International has said.
The State Duma voted almost unanimously in favour of the controversial measure with only one parliamentarian against and another abstaining, during the first reading.
The bill faces two more readings in the State Duma, after which it must be approved by the upper house (Federation Council) and President Vladimir Putin before it can become law.
The law would make the promotion of homosexuality among minors an administrative offence in federal law, with fines of up to 500,000 roubles (US$ 16,200).
David Diaz-Jogeix, Europe and Central Asia Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International said:
This law is an attack on the right to freedom of expression. There is no legal definition in the Russian law of what constitutes propaganda of homosexuality and the law could be interpreted very loosely.
It perversely presumes that the moral, spiritual and psychological development of children is best served by denying them access to support and information that can help them make informed, autonomous and responsible decisions.
This is an unjust law.
LGBTI activists organized today a Kissing Day protest in front of the Duma. Kissing couples were pelted with eggs and verbally abused by supporters of the law,. Police reportedly detained 20 LGBTI activists.
Russian police pounced on gay campaigners after they unfurled banners and rainbow-coloured flags outside the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.
Several protesters were attacked by Orthodox 'Christian' vigilantes.
Police patrolling outside the Duma shouted from megaphones: Your rally is not sanctioned, you're disrupting passers-by while police trucks fitted with metal cages waited nearby.
Moscow authorities had refused permission for the rally for the eighth year in a row, claiming it would interfere with students out celebrating the last day of term.
Police also arrested several nationalists and Orthodox Christians, who sang hymns and crossed themselves as if to ward off evil spirits. Konstantin Kostin, a member of the Holy Rus movement spouted:
Gay people need medical treatment. It's simply disgusting to look at them. Russia used to be a great superpower. Now look what's become of us. Marriage is a sacred union between man and woman, and this lot want to defile the sanctitude of our country.
Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, has passed a law imposing heavy fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under 18.
The measure was passed unanimously and will become law when approved by the upper house and President Vladimir Putin, a virtual formality.
Under the new law, private individuals promoting homosexual behaviour among minors face fines of up to 5,000 roubles (£100; $155) while officials risk paying 10 times that amount. Businesses and schools could be fined up to 500,000 roubles.
A recent poll found that nearly half of Russians believe that the gay and lesbian community should not enjoy the same rights as other citizens.
A painting depicting politicians Vladimir Putin and Dmitry
Medvedev in women's underwear was one of the items Russian authorities have physically censored by raiding a newly-opened St. Petersburg art gallery that had shown solidarity with Russia's gay-rights movement.
The off-beat gallery, known as the Museum of Authority, opened with an inaugural exhibit called The Rulers that featured paintings by artist Konstantin Altunin of Russian and international public figures.
Much of the inaugural exhibit was raunchy or politically-charged. One painting depicted St. Petersburg politician Vitaly Milonov, who spearheaded a local homophobic gay propaganda law that became the baseline for similar national
Milonov accompanied police at the gallery. Police seized the portrait of Mr. Milonov as well as the painting depicting Messrs. Putin and Medvedev in women's underwear.
Authorities also took two other works of art. One was a painting of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill with criminal-style tattoos mixing Soviet and religious iconography. The other was one of Yelena Mizulina, the Kremlin-allied Duma deputy and
morality crusader who led the drive to pass Russia's gay propaganda law nationally. That painting was entitled The Erotic Dreams of Deputy Mizulina.
Russia's anti gay 'propaganda' law is having wide and chilling effects on gay film making.
Filmmakers of a film with the translated title of A Winter's Journey have found that the film has been effectively banned despite winning approval by Russia's film censors and winning two prizes at separate film festivals. The film tells the story
of a gay classical singer falling in love with a street-smart petty criminal.
Director Sergei Taramayev told AFP he was saddened it could not be shown at the Kinotavr film festival after receiving such high critical acclaim. He said:
For the organisers of the festival it was uncomfortable, because there is such a law, so they thought it was better not to get involved.
At least people who were in the jury told us that this was the reason why we were not accepted for Kinotavr.
The film's co-writer Lyubov Lvova said festivals feared they could lose funding if they showed the film:
At many festivals, Russian ones, this scared the organisers a lot. They were afraid of this law, that it could stop them getting financing for their festivals.
Taramayev said they did not even submit the film to Russia's main film forum, Moscow International Film Festival, because of its anti-gay organiser, Nikita Mikhalkov. He said:
He supports the government's line and is a very political director and we realised that they would not take us.
Producer Mikhail Karasyov wrote in an email to AFP:
As for a cinema release, at the moment we are holding talks, but so far there is nothing concrete.
Swedish furniture retailer IKEA says it has pulled an article about a lesbian couple in the Russian edition of its customer magazine because that would have contravened that county's law on gay propaganda.
IKEA spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson says the story about the couple living with their child in London appeared in the December print edition of its club magazine and was available for customers in 25 markets worldwide, but not in Russia.
Magnusson said that IKEA was not able to publish the article because Russian law has restrictions regarding promoting homosexual relationships.
Moscow's security department denied an application for the Conchita Wurst March of Bearded Women and Men, which was due to have taken place to mark the 21st anniversary of homosexuality's legalisation in Russia.
Wurst, the drag queen persona of Austria's Thomas Neuwirth, has become an icon for Europe's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and a flashpoint for Russia's debate over gay rights.
Nikolay Alexeyev, founder of Moscow Pride told Pravda that they plan to urgently appeal the mayor's decision; even if unsuccessful, they will try to merge the event with a proposed gay pride parade on May 31. They face an uphill battle: in 2012,
Moscow city government enacted a 100-year ban on pride marches.
Russia's anti-gay protesters have been campaigning against Eurovision for weeks, calling it a Europe-wide gay parade . The participation of the obvious transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian singers on live
television is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay, said St Petersburg's notorious legislator Vitaly Milonov, who led the drive for Russia's anti-gay laws banning gay information from public speheres.
A children's puppet show has been banned from Russia's prime book festival over claims it promotes homosexuality, a news report said.
Colta.ru culture news website published an open letter from the Culture Ministry, demanding the organizers of the festival to pull The Soul of a Pillow by Olzhas Zhanaidarov from their program.
The play tells the story of a friendship between a pillow, and a boy in a kindergarten.
The ministry also condemned the adult play Herbivores by Maxim Kurochkin, citing its use of expletives. First Deputy Minister Vladimir Aristarkhov spouted: The content of both plays goes against the traditional moral values of Russian culture.
The ministry has no formal authority to ban the works, but said it would pull its name from the festival if the plays remain listed.
Both plays will be rebooked to run at an independent venue, said Colta.ru, organizer of the showings.