http://uk.gay.com/article/5370 (pics on link)
The Mayors of the 4 largest European cities, Berlin, London, Moscow, and Paris, met at London’s City Hall today (Wednesday 28 February) for their third four-Mayor meeting to discuss the key challenges facing their cities - the previous meetings were held in Moscow and Berlin. The Mayor of Beijing was a guest at the meeting.
The two-day event comes amid controversy over Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's vow to stop any attempt to hold gay-pride parades in the Russian capital.
Last year Moscow authorities banned gay activists from holding a parade. When the march went ahead despite the ban, marchers were detained by police, abused by militant Christians and attacked by neo-fascists.
Recently, Luzhkov described gay pride events as ‘satanic’. In response the Moscow gay pride parade organisers have filed a lawsuit against him in Tverskoy District Court.
Gay rights activist, Nikolay Alexeyev said: "The Moscow mayor insulted me not only as a co-organizer of the gay pride parade he illegally banned, but also as a citizen and a believer. The term 'satanic' is insulting and negative both in the secular and religious meaning."
Peter Tatchell of Outrage! helped coordinate a protest outside City Hall at 11am this morning, but the turnout was a little disappointing. For a few awful minutes, it was just Peter Tatchell and GAY.com. ‘It is Wednesday, isn’t it?’ he asked at one point, as the uncaring, tea-coloured Thames sloshed by.
Lashing rain, high wind and delays on both the Jubilee and Central Line proved quite off putting to potential gay anarchists. Eventually, the die-hards straggled in, though it has to be said, there were very few under forty. Perhaps it is true, the young gays only care about electro, Hoxton and bald, mad Britney.
In part of a statement released today by the Mayor’s press office, Mr Livingstone said: “London welcomes the important contribution that lesbians and gay men make to our city and has drawn a clear line against hate crime. As Mayor of London I condemn all acts of homophobic discrimination.
'I note that the Russian Government has recently stated that blanket bans on Gay Pride marches are unacceptable – all citizens have the right to peaceful demonstration and it is the responsibility of the police to take reasonable steps to protect citizens from violence. This must be implemented in practice”.
Nikolay Alexeyev, co-organiser of Moscow Pride joined demonstrators outside City Hall before attending the press conference. He planned to lob a question at his Russian nemesis, but at that point was unsure what his question might be.
As we tried to shelter from the increasingly cruel downpour, Alexeyev (below) pointed out that the weather had been equally dispiriting at last year’s controversial Moscow Pride. Clearly, this is a man who doesn’t let the weather rain on his parade.
Asked if he thought a Pride event would occur in Moscow this year, Alexeyev told GAY.com: “We are going to do everything to make it happen. We are already getting the support from some of the Russian authorities. The official position of the Russian Government in the Council of Europe is that the ban of Gay Pride is illegal.
GAY.com asked him how powerful Luzhkov is in regards to such events. “He can ban the event because he is the one who is responsible for the authorization of the event. Though he cannot ban it according to Russian legislation, he can still do what he wants.”
Alexeyev doesn’t believe the protestors at last year’s march are an accurate reflection of the Russian public. “If you look at the opinion polls, about 30% of Russians are ready to accept that gays go on the streets to demonstrate. Most of the people were brought by the leaders of extremist organizations.”
At this point in the interview, a wind-driven wall of rain whipped against us with Biblical force. “These are extreme conditions,” joked Alexeyev, as we braced ourselves against the elements.
Alexeyev agrees that it difficult to be ‘out’ in Russia. “It’s very difficult to go out and march. You need to have courage and be a real activist. It is dangerous.”
So how come Alexeyev overcame such fears and became such a bold spokesperson? “It’s hard to say, I think because I have the qualifications to change the lives of people for the better, in Russia. I started by writing books at the University, on gay issues. I was sent off from the university because of that.
"The case is in the European Court for one year already. From this I understood that I would not change things in the country from just writing books. I understand that you have to be an activist and you have to be active in the political process to change the attitudes of people.”