Powder Keg

Tomorrow’s Forbidden Moscow Pride Rally Looks like a Powder Keg Waiting to Explode

This is it, folks: in just a few hours, Moscow’s homophobic officials, police, and citizens will be put to the test by a group of LGBT activists who are either very brave, very crazy, or a little of each.

Despite a finding by the European Union that Moscow is required to allow the parade, officials have banned it. In defiance, the group still plans to meet at 1pm at The Kremlin, at the gate of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then at 1:30, they march to City Hall.

Says organizer Peter Tatchell:

We expect to bashed by neo-Nazis who have promised to attack the parade.  The Moscow police are refusing to protect us. The possibility of sustaining serious injuries is a worry. Russian neo-Nazis have previously murdered other protesters. The police have vowed to arrest us. In particular, the Russian marchers are likely to suffer harsh treatment and punishment.

Kind of puts American Prides in perspective, doesn’t it? Last year, everyone was complaining in San Francisco because the Backstreet Boys set was too short and the selection of beers was lousy. But nobody got murdered by a gang of neo-Nazis.

So far, there’s been no comment on the situation by U.S. officials. If someone’s bashed — or, God forbid, killed — that might have to change. Especially if that someone is Dan Choi.

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  • Nelson G

    So far, there’s been no comment on the situation by U.S. officials. If someone’s bashed — or, God forbid, killed — that might have to change. Especially if that someone is Dan Choi.

    Why would they? Choi made a personal choice to go to Moscow. No one appointed him emmisary or ambassador.

  • Bill

    Stay classy, heteros!

  • matt baume

    @Nelson G: I think if a high-profile American citizen was assaulted or killed, particularly by or in the presence of foreign peace officers, it would be a big deal.

    Also, Dan has a knack for … how to put this in a way that does not sound like a backhanded complement … assisting the media in training their focus on issues of interest to him.

  • Nelson G

    @matt baume: Choi is only high profile to those who blog about LGBT issues and who want to know about LGBT issues. Beyond that, I doubt very much that if anything happens to him, he would be cause for breaking news on CNN and MSNBC.

  • Danny

    That’s why gay people should simply go to the homes of the city council and the nutball fundies to protest randomly throughout the year at all times of the day. There are easily hundreds of thousands of gay people and million+ of their friends and family in Moscow (metro population 10 million+). The police should stop violating human rights and should go arrest the city council, mayor and the fundies for violating human rights.

  • Ruhlmann

    When you think about how particularly brutal the real Nazis were to the Russians it’s amazing regular Russians would tolerate these new wannabes. Hitler said “we’ll teach them to count to a hundred and they will pick the potatos”. I hope it all goes ok.

  • Jeffree

    @Ruhlmann: History is full of oppressed peoples who go on to oppress others when they have their chance.

    The Russian’s own treatment of ethnic & religious minorities is pretty much instructive on how their society deals with non-majority populations, including the LGBT people.

    It seems less ties to religion than the oppression in the US & parts of Western Europe, but I’m not well versed enough to know where the hate comes from.

  • Jeffree

    If Choi were arrested or beaten up, I think the chances of the issue getting some US press would be greater than if it were “just” a group of Russian LGBTs. Choi may not be a well-known person to non LGB Americans, but his being US citizen does count.

    I’m at work but will poke around the European press to see who else is following the Moscow Pride-slash-protest.

  • Ruhlmann

    @Jeffree: I understand turning the tables but I don’t believe the Russian government is officially or in most cases the politicians anti LGBT. Things have always moved slower in Russia. They were the last European country to completely abolish serfdom in the 1890’s and until 1917 the last imperial Monarchy. Their oppression of religious and ethnic groups was more politically motivated rather than prejudicial. They were trying to homogenize their society. Still wrong of course but a different wrong. Their anti LGBT laws were actually less oppressive than the west pre Stonewall.Russia needs to be part of the EU to survive and this will always be a requirement so it will come to recognition for their LGBT.

    It took days of rioting in democratic America to make people even talk about LGBT people and 40 plus years later you are still fighting for basic rights that most take for granted and there are still those that would imprison LGBT. Russia was socialy stunted for 80 plus years by communism and are probably socialy and politicly where Americans were in 1969 and I include Russian LGBT. I am not making excuses, I am just being realistic.

    I can connect the dots in my society from decriminalisation to full inclusion both legaly and socialy. I just don’t think they have enough dots yet. I am very worried for them just now. I hope eveything is ok for everyone.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    I suggest that public and private officials involved in the banning of freedom of expression, petition, protest, speech, assembly, and association in Moscow today be banned from entering the USA and EU/UK on extremism grounds.

    That would certainly include the Mayor of Moscow and high ranking officals of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Russia now stands in direct violation of its’ Council of Europe accords. Either the Council of Europe is the new “League of Nations” or they have to suspend Russia’s membership.

    Furthermore, Russia’s behavior (which included providing a permit to violence promoting fascist homophobes to protest today) calls into question their ability to host the Olympics in 2014 and the World Cup.

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