Sun, May 28, 2006
Gay Russians beaten during pride paradeUPDATED: 2006-05-28 02:28:45 MST
MOSCOW -- Russian homosexual activists were pummelled by nationalist protesters and arrested by police yesterday, preventing them from putting on a display of "gay pride" in defiance of a city ban.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said homosexual 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," he said.
Police detained the rally's main organizer, Nikolai Alexeyev, as he attempted to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a symbol of Russia's victory against Nazism in the Second World War, just outside the Kremlin wall.
Police closed the entrance to the garden where the tomb is located and the first half-dozen activists who arrived carrying flowers were set upon by about 100 religious and nationalist protesters who kicked and punched them.
"Moscow is not Sodom!" they shouted.
Riot police rushed in to separate the assailants from the activists but detained Alexeyev "as the ringleader," said British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who was in the group.
Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia.
"This is a perverts' parade," said one protester holding an icon of the Madonna.
"This is filth, which is forbidden by God. We have to cleanse the world of this filth," said the woman who gave only her first name, Irina. http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/russian-gay-pride-parade-rally-ends-in-assaults-and-arrests/2006/05/28/1148754872665.html
Russian gay pride parade rally ends in assaults and arrests
May 29, 2006
MOSCOW: Riot police broke up an attempt by gays and lesbians to stage Moscow's first gay pride parade, and gay activists who tried to lay flowers near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin wall were heckled and assaulted by skinheads, Orthodox Christians and nationalists.
Police said they arrested about 120 people on Saturday, supporters and opponents of the parade. Gay activists were dragged away by riot police when they began speaking to reporters, but opponents of the parade, including a nationalist member of parliament, were allowed to speak and chant "Moscow is not Sodom".
Volker Beck, a German MP for the Green Party, marched with the group and was struck in the face by skinheads outside city hall. He was briefly detained after the incident. A Canadian journalist was also assaulted by opponents of the parade, who threw smoke bombs and eggs.
The Washington Post http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-gay28may28
Gay Activists Beaten by Extremists, Jailed by Police
From the Associated Press
May 28, 2006
MOSCOW — Gay rights activists were pummeled by right-wing protesters and detained by police Saturday, preventing them from putting on a display of gay pride in defiance of a city ban.
Moscow Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov had warned Friday that gay parades were "absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, for Russia…. As long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades."
Police detained the rally's main organizer, Nikolai Alexeev, as he attempted to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a symbol of Russia's victory against fascism in World War II, just outside the Kremlin wall.
"We are conducting a peaceful action. We want to show that we have the same rights as other citizens," Alexeev had said at a news conference a few hours before the rally was to have begun.
But police closed the entrance to the garden where the tomb is, and the first half a dozen activists who arrived were set upon by about 100 religious and nationalist extremists who kicked and punched them.
"Moscow is not Sodom!" they shouted. Women wearing head scarves held up religious icons while men in Cossack white sheepskin hats stood by.
"We were expecting this. It's the authorities that are allowing this to happen," said a woman who identified herself only as Anna.
Riot police rushed in to separate the assailants from the activists but detained Alexeev "as the ringleader," said British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who was in the group.
Police later said they had detained 120 anti-gay protesters and gay activists.
Saturday was the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia, and a number of foreign activists traveled to Moscow for an unprecedented forum on gay rights in Russia and the Russian capital's first gay and lesbian pride parade.
By the time of the start of the rally, more than 100 youths were standing in the square opposite the mayor's office, chanting: "Glory to Russia!"
A member of Germany's Bundestag, Volker Beck, was giving an interview before TV cameras when about 20 youths beat him, bloodying his nose. Volker Eichler, a gay activist from Berlin who witnessed the beating, said police did not intervene. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/05/28/MNG60J3O821.DTL
Moscow gay rights march meets with violence, police
Protesters show up to attack activists at banned event
Michael Mainville, Chronicle Foreign Service
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Moscow -- Defying an official ban and threats of violence, gay and lesbian activists attempted to hold Russia's first gay pride march in Moscow on Saturday, but were thwarted by police and neo-fascist protesters shouting "Moscow is not Sodom!"
Police arrested about 120 people, and several gay activists were injured in attacks by religious and xenophobic extremists.
The key organizer of the event, 28-year-old Nikolai Alexeyev, was pulled away by police only moments after the short-lived march began. "This is a great victory, an absolute victory -- look at what's happening," Alexeyev shouted as two police officers dragged him onto a waiting bus.
City authorities had banned the march, which they called an "outrage to society," while religious leaders from all of Russia's major faiths condemned it. It provoked a debate within the gay community over whether the demonstration risked inflaming already widespread homophobia in Russia.
But supporters had insisted it was necessary.
"We can't keep living in the shadows," Alexeyev said in an interview before the rally began. "We deserve the same rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly as anyone else."
Organizers had urged gay-rights supporters to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside the Kremlin wall, before marching to a square opposite Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's office. But when they arrived, they found that authorities had closed the entrance to the park where the tomb is located, and hundreds of riot police blocked their path.
More than 100 anti-gay protesters -- including skinheads, Russian nationalists and Orthodox Christian fundamentalists -- had gathered. Women wearing head scarves chanted hymns and held up religious icons, while men in traditional cossack tunics and sheepskin hats shouted at participants.
As police pushed the crowd away from the Kremlin, gangs of skinheads attacked a number of gay activists, kicking and beating them. "We're here to defend the dignity of Russia, to protect our country from perverts and pederasts," said 26-year-old Nikolai Grigoriev.
Shortly before the main rally was to begin, dozens of anti-march youths raced toward the site, throwing flares and setting off smoke bombs. Police made little attempt to clear the square, and the crowd grew. The few gay-rights supporters who attempted to enter the square were arrested by police or beaten by protesters.
While giving an interview to television cameras, a Green Party member of Germany's Bundestag, Volker Beck, was attacked by about 20 youths who beat him in the head. A gang of youths also beat and kicked a Chronicle correspondent attempting to interview one of the participants.
Supporters of the march said the government's refusal to sanction the event had sent a clear signal to police and extremists.
"It was shocking and disturbing. What I saw was a complete failure of police protection that was directly linked to the mayor's banning of the march," said gay-rights activist John Fisher, co-director of the ARC International gay lobby group in Geneva.
By banning the march, authorities gave "free rein to those who would perpetrate acts of violence," Fisher said. "We can only hope that what we saw was representative of only a small segment of society."
Organizers had timed the event to coincide with the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia. Despite growing tolerance for homosexuals since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia remains a deeply homophobic society. In one poll last year, 73 percent of Russians opposed same-sex marriages, and 43 percent said gay men should be incarcerated.
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