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Sum Up of Moscow Pride 2011

by Andy Thayer

GLN permalink 6-4-2011

The first and most important thing that needs to be said is that we are very fortunate that no LGBT activists were killed on or near Red Square on May 28, 2011.

While Western media sources have made a great deal out of the fact that a few visiting Western activists got a some minor bumps or bruises at the hands of the police or fascists, they have been virtually silent about the fact that a leading Russian transgender activist, Anna Komarova, a long-time member of the GayRussia organization, was kicked three or four times in the head while he lay on the pavement, and due only to good fortune was not seriously injured or killed.

Another participant, Elena Kostyuchenko, a journalist with Novaya Gazeta newspaper who came out of the closet as a Lesbian on Saturday, joining the protest with her rainbow flag, was still hospitalized as of my last information from yesterday. I do not know the nature of her injuries or the prognosis for her recovery.

The primary responsibilities for these near-tragedies lies with the fascists, who were charged with only minor crimes, and the Russian government which allowed the serious crimes of assault and attempted murder to occur, despite possessing overwhelming force. These crimes did occur in some back alleyway or obscure side street, but in broad daylight literally 50 yards away from Red Square.

Secondary responsibility for these crimes lies with all of those non-Russian governments, including the Obama administration, which valued their trade and military relationships with the Russian government over speaking out for human rights. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, who are fond of talking about human rights violations when they occur in small nations which can be kicked around by the U.S., especially if those nations are not allied with the United States, abysmally failed the test of human rights leadership on Saturday.

The U.S. embassy in Moscow did finally issued a brief statement about the attacks on Moscow Pride on the day after, and it was signed by a lesser State Department (http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2011/05/20110531095808su6.131709e-02.html). After the Russian authorities banned Moscow Pride 2011 - in direct contravention to the 17th Article of the Russian Constitution and last fall's unanimous decision of the European Court of Human Rights - Moscow Pride organizers directly appealed to all Western embassies to issue public statements of protest to the Russian government. All of these governments, including the Obama administration, failed to do so. The U.S. embassy told Pride organizers that they would simply "monitor the situation." As a result, the Russian riot police apparently felt they had a free hand to conduct themselves in the same brutal manner as at previous Prides.

As you will see in the still-very incomplete list of English language links to news articles and other reports below, the roles of myself, Dan Choi and other international activists were magnified out of all proportion to our actual parts in Moscow Pride 2011. We were not organizers, but simply participants at the kind invitation of GayRussia.

LGBT Russians suffered the greatest degree of violence and took by far the greatest risks - and continue to do so - and yet their sufferings have gone almost totally unnoticed by the international press. Fortunately, my Russian friends tell me that the Russian language coverage of Pride this year was the largest and most prominent, with the exception of the first Pride in 2006.

GayRussia is acutely aware of this perverse fascination of the Western media in Moscow Pride if only foreign activists are involved. Knowingly or not, activists with GayRussia have wisely taken a page from the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the southern United States 50 years ago.

Statement of GLN's Andy Thayer At the Press Conference The Day Before Moscow Pride 2011

I too am honored to be in Russia and to be a guest of GayRussia, Russia being one of the first countries of the world, in the early part of the last century, to remove all the laws against homosexuality - unfortunately that situation did not persist. But that is an achievement of the Russian people that should be recognized by the LGBT movement internationally.

Now last fall, GayRussia won a sweeping legal victory in the European Court of Human Rights. But unfortunately there was no effective implementation of that decision, as we've seen with the repeated ban of Moscow Pride. And that was a failure, not only the Russian judicial system, it was a failure of the European judicial system.

We in the United States have faced a similar situation where, just a little over 50 years ago, the courts decided that racist segregation was illegal, and yet there was no effective implementation of that sweeping decision. That sweeping decision was only implemented through the so-called "Freedom Rides" of the Civil Rights Movement which shook the American judicial system to its core, and actually transformed America, not just for African Americans, but for everyone who lives in the United States. And that I believe is what GayRussia is doing today, because while the European Court system has failed through the banning of Moscow Pride, GayRussia, by going forward with the demonstration tomorrow is actually broadening and deepening Russian democracy and is doing a tremendous service not just to LGBTs in Russia and internationally, but to Russian democracy itself. And for that, all of the Russian people owe a deep debt of gratitude to GayRussia.

Finally, I have to say a few words about the silence of the Obama administration, because the rationalization that was used by the Russian government for saying that Gay Pride had to be banned in Russia tomorrow was that they could not provide the security for the demonstrators, and yet this great nation, one of the most powerful military nations on the earth, can certainly provide security when President Obama and others come to Russia, but yet they say that they cannot provide security for pro-civil rights demonstrators.

That is a shame on Russian democracy, and it is a shame that President Obama has failed to speak out in defense of GayRussia, that Secretary of State Clinton has failed to speak out in defense of GayRussia, and that if there are injuries tomorrow, if there are arrests tomorrow, that will be to the shame of the United States government and President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for not speaking out now, before that potential tragedy occurs.

History will remember the silence of the Obama administration at this crucial juncture in Russian democracy and I for one am ashamed to be in any associated with the United States government when it makes that failure of supporting democratic freedoms here in Russia.

I am, though, very honored to be here with the people of GayRussia and the other international participants and I will be very honored to participate in Gay Pride tomorrow. Thank you very much.

Some Links From Moscow Pride 2011

Host organization - GayRussia
(click the "English" tab at the top of the page)

On the scene blog
Andy Harley
UK Gay News

Moscow's gays get set to defy ban
by Tom Washington
Moscow News
May 27, 2011

Moscow Pride: Police Attack Genderqueer Activist Anna Komarova - First Interview
May 30, 2011

Gay Pride Goes Public: Moscow's Gay Parade Once Again Falters as Experts Blame Police for Failing to Provide Enough Security
By Andrew Roth
Russia Profile

American Gay-Rights Activist Arrested In Moscow
Radio Free Europe
May 29, 2011

Andy Thayer and Daniel Choi Arrested in Moscow
Gay Chicago Magazine
May 29, 2011

Dan Choi records video inside squad car, after Moscow Pride arrest
Washington Blade
May 30, 2011

Dozens arrested in Moscow gay rights parade clashes
By Mitra Mobasherat
May 28, 2011

US 'concern' over violent end to Russian gay rally
Agence France Presse
May 29, 2011

Local activist Thayer arrested again in Moscow during Pride event
Windy City Times
May 28, 2011

Choi Supports Moscow's Gays
Lt. Dan Choi, who fought "don't ask, don't tell," is now fighting Moscow's ban on gay pride celebrations
By Advocate.com Editors
May 27, 2011

Dan Choi, Andy Thayer, Louis-Georges Tin Arrested At Moscow Gay Pride
By On Top Magazine Staff
May 28, 2011

TAKE ACTION: US gay rts activist Fmr. Lt. Dan Choi, others beaten at Moscow gay pride.
Choi asks you to co-sign open letter to Sec. Clinton.
Posted by John Aravosis
May 28, 2011

Au cœr de la gay pride de Moscou (7): Une journée à la campagne
May 30, 2011

Dan Choi, Others Arrested in Moscow Gay Pride Demonstration
May 28, 2011

Dozens arrested in violence at Moscow gay rally
by Olga Nedbayeva
Agence France Presse
May 28, 2011

Threats and Arrests at a Gay Rights Rally in Moscow
By Michael Schwirtz
New York Times
May 28, 2011

Withers: Choi arrested and released in Russia
By James Withers
May 28, 2011

Arrests, violence at Moscow gay rally
Big Pond News
May 28, 2011

Dan Choi Beaten, Arrested At Moscow Gay Pride Parade
Huffington Post
May 28, 2011

Gay Activist Lt. Dan Choi Tweets From Jail After Being Arrested In Moscow Pride March
May 28, 2011

Dozens detained at violent Moscow gay rally
By Olga Nedbayeva
Agence France Presse
May 28, 2011

Chicago gay rights activist, Andy Thayer, and Lt. Dan Choi arrested in Moscow (Video)
by GoPride.com News Staff
May 28, 2011

Three Prominent Leaders Detained At Moscow Gay Rally
Lez Get Real
May 28, 2011

Moscow police arrest gay campaigners as ultra-Orthodox attack rally
May 28, 2011

Dan Choi is among dozens arrested at Moscow gay-rights protest
San Diego Gay and Lesbian News
May 28, 2011

Lt Dan Choi Arrested, Assaulted In Moscow, Russia
Daily Kos
May 28, 2011

Dozens arrested in Moscow gay rights parade clashes
EU Times
May 29, 2011

Moscow flouts Euro Court ruling, arrests 32 at Moscow Pride
by Rex Wockner
Windy City Times
June 1, 2011

...and yet more links...

(Includes anti-gay protesters giving fascist salutes)

...and there is tons more in other languages...

Gay Liberation Network


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