Friday, 8 May 2009

MaltaMedia: 'What if we could be free' in Moscow
8.5.9 by Gattaldo

Back in the UK, for the past few years I have met up with a group of gay friends for refreshments on Eurovision night. We relish Sir Terry's bitchy commentary and I'm sure that this year we expect nothing less from the camp Norton. We make fun of the kitsch costumes and dance routines (Malta has certainly had its share of this). The last thing on our minds is making a political statement. This year, the contest is being held in Moscow.

A press conference was held on Tuesday by the Moscow Pride Movement to launch the May 16 Slavic Pride March. With 50 or so journalists present, they took the opportunity to speak out on Gay Rights in Russia. 

I still recall reading about Right Said Fred's Richard Fairbrass andPeter Tatchell's nasty experience at the hands of Russian ultra-nationalist thugs and the Russian riot police at the 2007 Moscow Gay Pride. According to the Guardian the police failed to arrest any of the skinheads who chanted "death to homosexuals" but detained several Europeans present at Pride, amongst them German MP Volker Beck of the Green party, and the radical Italian MEP Marco Cappato. Religious orthodox protesters were also amongst the violent thugs, presumably following the teachings of Christ. 

According to's report on the news conference:
“Moscow Pride is an incredible platform which allows us to speak and get attention from the public not only about Freedom of Assembly but about gay rights in general in Russia every year” said Nikolai Alekseev in introduction.

“There has not been any more powerful initiative to put gay rights in the society in the history of the Russian LGBT movement” he added.
2009 sees the fourth attempt to host a March for the Rights of Sexual Minorities in Moscow. This year, the event which is to be held together with Belarusian activists was re-branded as the “Slavic Pride”. It is also expected to take place next year in Minsk, Belarus, for the first time.

The temptation for the gay community to make use of the platform that the Eurovision in Moscow presents it with is too great. The march has been timed to coincide with the Eurovision final and this should make things a bit more interesting for me and my gay friends, introducing a serious note into the proceedings. Let us see if the authorities allow for the march to happen. They have not been so forthcoming in the past. Gay activists have sworn they will go ahead regardless.

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