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U.S. Activist Joins Moscow News Conference Denouncing Mayor's 5th Ban of Gay Pride Parade

Moscow Gay Pride launched with News Conference Denouncing Mayor's 5th Ban of the Event

Russian gay leader vows, "Whatever the courts decide, the right to protest is guaranteed under the Russian constitution and we intend to exercise our rights." U.S. gay activist Andy Thayer says "this Saturday, this gay pride flag I brought from Chicago will fly on the streets of Moscow along with Russian gay pride flags, whether there is permit or not."

By Andy Thayer
GLN permalink 5-27-2010

MOSCOW, Russia - The fifth attempt to hold a Moscow Pride parade was launched today with a packed news conference in the Grand Ballroom at the Holiday Inn on Lesnaya Street.

Nikolai Alekseev, the principal organizer of Moscow Pride, announced at the press conference:

"The courts today rejected our appeal against the banning of three Gay Pride rallies. We asked to hold these rallies in central Moscow this Saturday 29 May. Now we go to court on Friday in a bid to overturn the Mayor's ban on holding a Gay Pride march through Moscow on Saturday," he said.

Organizers are not hopeful that the ban will be revoked.

"The Mayor's reputation and authority is at stake. He has refused us for the last five years, ever since our first attempted gay parade in 2006. I hope he will change his mind but I doubt it. Mayor Luzhkov is not a great lover of democracy, human rights or gay people. Whatever the courts decide, the right to protest is guaranteed under the Russian constitution and we intend to exercise our rights," added Mr. Alekseev.

Today's Moscow Pride launch and press conference was attended by international delegates and speakers, who were there to support the Russian gay activists, including Volker Beck, the German Green MP; Louis-Georges Tin, founder of the International Day Against Homophobia and President of the IDAHO Committee; Andy Thayer, a U.S. gays rights activist with the Gay Liberation Network (www.GayLiberation.net); and Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the British gay human rights group OutRage! and human rights spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales.

Mr. Thayer told the news conference: "Dr. King and other civil rights heroes taught that unjust laws sometimes have to be broken in order to make civil rights progress. That is why this Saturday, this gay pride flag I brought from Chicago will fly on the streets of Moscow along with Russian gay pride flags, whether there is permit or not. This is the way that civil rights progress has always been made."

"I would say to the leader of my government, Mr. Obama, it is very easy to speak out in favor of human rights in countries to which you are opposed. It is a far more difficult thing to speak out in favor of human rights at home, and in countries to which you are allied. Recently Mr. Obama you cut a nuclear arms deal with the Russian government. It is time now to speak out against the ban on Moscow Pride scheduled for this Saturday. Russian gays and lesbians who have been so courageously organizing for their freedom, and the freedom of all Russians, deserve no less."

Chicago Gay Liberation Network activist Andy Thayer, left, and Britain's gay rights activist Peter Tatchell

Chicago Gay Liberation Network activist Andy Thayer, left, and Britain's gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 27, 2010. Russian gay rights activists say they will hold a rally outside the European Union's office in Moscow to protest what they say is a lack of support from the EU and its member states. The activists plan to hold a parade in Moscow every year, but the action is routinely banned by city authorities and the parade attempts end in arrests and fist fights.

Mr. Tatchell told the news conference:

"The ban on Moscow Pride is illegal and Mayor Luzhkov is a criminal for banning it. He should be put on trial for violating the Russian constitution. The real criminals are not the organizers of Moscow Pride, but the mayor of Moscow and the judges who uphold this illegal ban."

"President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin are colluding with this ban by failing to order it to be overturned. I call on the Russian President and Prime Minister to show leadership by publicly condemning the ban and by calling on the mayor of Moscow to lift it. They should ensure freedom of expression and the right to protest to all the citizens of Moscow and Russia, gay and straight."

Follow a live blog of this week's events in Moscow at:
UK Gay News Live Blog http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/10/May/2701.htm

Full text of the news conference and more photos can be found at:
http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/90571/index.php



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