Russia: Putin critic vows to allow gay pride rallies in Moscow if elected as Mayor

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics has said gay pride marches would be permitted in Moscow, if he is elected as the city’s next Mayor.

Alexei Navalny, who is seeking the office of Moscow Mayor on an anti-corruption platform, voiced his opposition to a June anti-gay law banning the promotion of “non traditional relationships” to minors.

Speaking on gay rights in Russia on Ekho Moskvy radio, Navalny said he would allow gay pride marches to take place in the Russian capital.

“The constitution says that everyone can [demonstrate], and the mayor of Moscow cannot forbid it,

“I will adhere to the constitution. The constitution says all people have the right to demonstrate peacefully and unarmed.

“If everyone is clothed and marches in an orderly way with their slogans, I do not care at all what their sexual orientation is, where they are going and what they are saying.”

Despite having no strong chance of winning the office of Mayor according to polls, and it is likely that acting mayor Sergie Sobyanin will remain in office, Navalny has a strong online following, and was one of the key figures behind anti-Putin demonstrations around his re-election in 2011.

He was last month found guilty of corruption and sentenced to five years in prison, however he was released 24 hours later on a technicality.

Putin yesterday signed a decree banning all rallies or demonstrations in Sochi around the 2014 Winter Olympics, in what has been seen as an attempt at heading off protests against the anti-gay laws.

President  Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community. Other laws banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples, and one which enables organisations receiving funding from abroad to be fined as “foreign agents”, were also passed.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday released a statement saying it is content with the reassurances given by Russia over an anti-gay law signed in June for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

The statement came in a response to an open letter from Russian Deputy Prime MInister Dmitry Kozak, who promised that gay people would not be discriminated against but then went onto defend the gay “propaganda” law by stating that it applied to all persons so therefore couldn’t be considered “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The IOC has guaranteed that no one shall face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, but in the wake of Sweden’s Emma Green Tregaro’s protest against the anti-gay laws at the World Athletics Championships last week the IOC have reiterated that political protests are not permitted in sports venues.

The laws have so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka.