Moscow Pride ‘a success’, gay activists say

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A ten-minute flashmob in Moscow last weekend has been hailed as the first successful Pride parade in the city.

Gay rights activists were denied permission to hold a Pride by city officials for the fifth year running but 30 marchers were able to outwit police and security forces.

They marched down a main street in the city centre on Saturday May 29th carrying a 20-metre rainbow flag and placards in Russian and English calling for gay rights and an end to homophobia.

This is the first time a Pride event in Moscow has proceeded without violence or arrests.

Calling it a “guerrilla-style hit-and-run” Pride, British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell described how organisers fed police false information about where the march would take place.

He said: “All morning the Gay Pride organisers fed the police a steady stream of false information, via blogs and websites, concerning the location of the parade.

“They suggested that it would take place outside the EU Commission’s offices. As a result, the police put the whole area in total lockdown, closing nearby streets and metro stations in bid to prevent protesters assembling there.”

He added: “The Russian gay activists have won a big political and morale victory. They staged their Gay Pride march, despite it being banned by the mayor and the judges, and despite the draconian efforts by the police and FSB security services to prevent it from taking place.”

Principal organiser Nikolai Alekseev, said: “Though the March was short – it happened. All the Russian media reported that for the first time in five years, the gay parade took place in Moscow without being arrested by the police and assaulted by protesters.”

Moscow City Hall banned the latest march citing reasons of security, although Mr Alekseev told last week that the decision was “purely political” and had nothing to do with safety.

Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov has consistently refused permission for the march and has called gays and lesbians”satanic” in the past.

In May 2006, more than 120 people were arrested and in 2007, Mr Tatchell was severely beaten by neo-Nazis. Last year, marchers accused police of brutality.

Mr Alekseev and other activists expect that by the time next year’s Pride parade is held, the ban will have been lifted.

They are awaiting a European Court of Human Rights judgment on the case, which is expected this summer.

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