Gay marches “assist homophobia” say Moscow authorities

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The deputy Mayor of Moscow responded to calls for a compromise over gay rights marches in the city by calling activists provocateurs and accusing Western governments of trying to “pull us into a new dimension on the discussion on human rights using the topic of sexual minorities.”

In January the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, wrote to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an attempt to find a compromise that would allow Moscow Pride 2007 to take place. The event was banned in 2006.

The minister then wrote to Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, who rejected any talk of compromise.

In a letter to Mr Lavrov, dated 19th April 2007, Mr Luzhkov’s then-deputy, I.N. Ordzhonikidze, referred to the planned gay Pride event in Moscow as a “well-thought and planned provocation.”

Mr Luzhkov banned the parade, scheduled for May 27th.

A small group of gay activists who attempted to deliver a letter to his office in protest on the day of the banned Pride were blocked by police, and several, including Peter Tatchell, were physically assaulted by a homophobic gang of counter-protesters.

Other documents reveal that the Moscow police are monitoring websites and news sources to keep track of Russian gay rights activists.

“We have concrete evidence that gay provocateurs intentionally warm up passions around sexual minorities, assisting the growth of homophobia in the society,” the deputy Mayor wrote.

He urged the Foreign Minister to expose “the intentions of gay provocateurs and explanation of the real situation to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe.

“Their aggressive extremist activity can not be considered as a peaceful demonstration being part of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution,” he said.

“As leading representatives of traditional faiths warned on many occasions, in case of a “gay parade” there is a possibility of not only inadequate displays of outraged believers but mass street disorders and clashes of citizens are possible irrespective of their attitude towards religion and representatives of sexual minorities.

“This is what the organisers of provocations want, so that they can afterwards blame Moscow authorities in violent repression of human rights.”

The organisers of Moscow Pride are taking the city authorities to the European Court of Human Rights over their decision to ban the event in 2006 and have vowed to take the case against the 2007 ban to Strasbourg as well.

In a letter to the mayor dated April 30th, the head of the Moscow Main Department of Internal Affairs (GUVD), Vladimir Pronin said that police were: “constantly controlling mass public actions in the city, monitoring media and internet with the aim to take measures of preventive character and non-admission of illegal actions on the part of representatives of sexual minorities.”