Gay activists in Moscow staged a brief
gay pride parade Saturday in defiance of city officials who have
banned such demonstrations since 2006, UKGayNews.org.uk
During two separate events gay and
lesbian activists marched for greater rights.
About 25 people carrying banners and
shouting “No discrimination on the grounds of orientation”
marched for about 10 minutes on The Arbat, a shop-lined street
popular with tourists visiting Moscow.
Later in the day, activists, including
British gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell, unfurled a 20-meter long
rainbow flag in northwestern Moscow and chanted “Russia without
Gay activists managed to escape the
watchful eyes of the police by announcing they would hold their
parade outside the offices of the European Commission and switching
locations at the last minute.
Nikolai Alekseev, head of Moscow Pride,
apologized to journalists who fell for the ruse.
“We hope you understand that given
the very particular context we have to face here in Moscow where the
police is watching gay activists and journalists and our will to
avoid any arrest and any beatings, the way we conducted the 5th
Moscow Pride attempt was the most appropriate,” he said.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov vowed in
January to “crack down” on gay pride parades.
“For several years, Moscow has
experienced unprecedented pressure to conduct a gay pride parade,
which cannot be called anything but a Satanic act,” Luzhkov said.
“We have prevented such a parade and we will not allow it in the
future. Everyone needs to accept this as an axiom.”
“It is high time to crack down on the
parade with all the power and justice of the law, instead of talking
about human rights,” he added.
Despite the ban, gay activists have
managed to stage small but politically effective protests. Last
year, demonstrators gathered near Moscow State University where they
chanted “Homophobia is the shame of Russia!” and “Equal rights
for everyone!” They
were quickly surrounded by police who violently arrested the
On Friday, a Moscow judge rejected a
challenge to the city's ban on gay rights demonstrations.