Congress demands Russia protects gay community

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US Congress members have called on the President of Russia to defend gay rights after the violence at Moscow Gay Pride last May.

The politicians asked Vladimir Putin to look after all his country’s citizens, in a letter published on the gay Russia website, signed by 50 congressmen.

It said: “It seems to us evident that any government of the people would seek to protect all people, so we were very disappointed that Moscow mayor Luzhkov claimed in denying the parade permit that he would not be able to ensure the safety of the marchers.

“In fact, given reports that some police stood by while gay and lesbian marchers were attacked, it is difficult for us to believe that the police were unable to protect the marchers, but instead were simply unwilling to do so.”

“We hope you agree that violence against people based on sexual orientation, people who are doing no harm to anyone else, is outrageous and not acceptable. We urge you to publicly make clear this sentiment to those who would seek to do harm to gay and lesbian individuals, to public officials and civil leaders who provoke or inadequately respond to such violence, and to the gay and lesbian citizens of Moscow and beyond who deserve to live, gather and associate without fear of violence.”

Over 120 people including a German MP were arrested in Moscow last May after campaigners attempted to hold the Russian capital’s first gay rights rally.

Moscow’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, and a Russian court, had rejected applications for the event claiming it would cause violent protests, but gay campaigners from all over the world converged in the Russian capital met by religious and nationalist protesters chanting anti gay slogans and 1000 riot police aiming to stop demonstrations in the Red Square.

The arrests were made after a group of activists, including event organiser, Nikolay Alexeyev, attempted to lay flowers at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a war memorial, equating the struggle for gay rights with fighting fascism.