Moscow Gay Leaders Arrested
Posted by pozlife on May 27, 2007
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: May 27, 2007 – 7:00 am ET
Updated 8:30 am ET
(Moscow) Moscow police arrested about 20 people Sunday as they attempted to present a petition denouncing a decision to bar a gay pride parade in the capital.
Among those detained were gay rights leader Nikolai Alexeyev and a number of foreign supporters including British gay advocate Peter Tatchell and two reportedly two European lawmakers.
They and about 100 other people gathered in a park across from the office of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to collect signatures for the petition which already had been signed by about 40 members of the European Parliament.
Waiting for them were members of extreme right nationalist groups, Russian Orthodox churchgoers, and young militants.
The crowd pelted the gay group with eggs and started a number of skirmishes until police moved in arresting the gay leaders.
A woman threw a bottle of water on Tatchell and then a young man in military fatigues hit him in the head. The British rights leader was led away by police.
Police were accused of doing nothing to stop the angry mob.
“I didn’t feel protected,” said Vladimir Luxuria, the first transsexual member of the Italian Parliament.
“We were peacefully trying to present a letter. That is never a reason to arrest people,” said Sophie IntVeld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament.
The only Russian lawmaker to publicly state support for the demonstrators came from Alexei Mitrofanov of the tiny Liberal Democratic Party.
Most of those detained were released several hours later.
“There is no rule of law in Moscow. The right to protest does not exist. This is not a democracy,” said Tatchell following his release.
“Today’s protest was about much more than gay rights. We were defending the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest for
all Russians, gay and straight.”
Police would not say who or how many remain in custody.
Luzhkov earlier this month refused to grant a parade permit for the gay march. It was not unexpected. He had denounced the parade for several months and it was the second year in a row that the march was banned.
Last month a Moscow court tossed out a lawsuit accusing Mayor Lushkov of libel over claims he made that gay rights marches were “satanic.” (story)
The court ruled that Moscow Pride leaders had failed to prove that the remarks were incendiary or intended to vilify gays in general.
In January during a Kremlin meeting before leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church Lushkov said that gay rights marches were “satanic,” (story) The speech was broadcast on Moscow television.
Lushkov then went on to blast gay unions.
“Some European nations bless single-sex marriages and introduce sexual guides in schools,” Lushkov said in the speech broadcast on Moscow television. “Such things are a deadly moral poison for children.”
Moscow Pride called Lushkov’s remarks a “smear campaign” against gays and lesbians and filed the lawsuit.
Last year, Lushkov refused to give a permit for the gay parade citing security concerns.
Despite the ban, marchers attempted to hold a parade. Police quickly moved in arresting marchers and counter protestors. (story)
Most of the 200 people detained were gay. Charges against them were later dropped.
A gay pride parade also has been banned in St Petersburg.
Source: Gay News From 365Gay.com