we wanted to start a discussion on the Moscow subject. tell us what is really going on. Jan
Russian gays press ahead with plans for rights march
MOSCOW, May 15, 2006 (Combined reports) - Russian gay activists said Monday they were determined to hold Moscow's first ever gay rights march later this month despite trenchant opposition, and called on President Vladimir Putin to join the protest.
"We officially informed the Moscow mayor's office on Monday morning of our intention to organise a march on May 27 (the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia) to defend the rights of sexual minorities in Russia and, whatever the response from the authorities, we will hold this march," Nikolai Alexeyev, who runs the site gayrussia.ru, said at a news conference.
The Russian Orthodox Church, several members of parliament and Moscow's powerful mayor, Yury Luzhkov, have already expressed their opposition to the event. Earlier this year, the Mayor's Office said the parade could not take place because the proposed event had "evoked outrage in society, in particular among religious leaders."
In an open letter to Putin, gay rights activists also invited the Russian leader to take part in the event and asked him to put an end to widespread discrimination in the country.
"Mister President! We call on you ... to stop sexual discrimination and a violation of our rights to protest," the letter said.
"We invite you to take part in this International Day Against Homophobia event," it added.
Homosexuality was considered a crime until 1993 and classified as a mental illness until 1999.
Some 2,000 activists, including Merlin Holland, the grandson of British author Oscar Wilde, and French pop star Desireless, are due to take part in the rally in central Moscow later this month.
According to a recent poll by the independent Levada centre, 37 percent of Russians believe that gays should be prosecuted and 45 percent are against homosexuality.
European rights body slams Russia over gay attacks
STRASBOURG, May 15, 2006 - The Council of Europe Monday condemned Russia over attacks on homosexuals and called on the authorities to prosecute those responsible.
"I strongly condemn the recent violent incidents against gays and lesbians in Moscow, and I call on the authorities to investigate these attacks, prosecute the people responsible for them, and prevent any such violence in the future," said Terry Davis, secretary general of the 46-member organisation, Europe's chief human rights body.
"This is particularly important in view of the series of events currently being organised by the Russian gay and lesbian community to raise awareness about the difficult situation in which they live," he said.
"They are entitled to call for full and unequivocal respect for their basic rights and freedoms."
"The violent homophobic protests in recent weeks were neither isolated nor spontaneous," said Davis.
"They have taken place against the background of a sustained campaign against the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. It is regrettable that several people who should normally be the first to speak out against such blatant injustice, have decided instead to endorse and actively support homophobic ideas."
Nationalists and Orthodox Church faithful have opposed the gay pride march and earlier this month besieged a gay club as police stood by.
The mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov justified his opposition to the march on the grounds that "most people oppose these public expressions of sexual tendencies."