repost from Moscow News by Tom Washington
A weekend of protest and counter protest has kept gay rights firmly on the agenda, days after City Hall slapped a ban next Sunday’s planned Gay Pride march.
Saturday saw the combined forces of the Russian Orthodox Church, ultra-nationalist movement Narodny Sobor, the Eurasian Youth Union and social movement Family, Love and Fatherland converge on Bolotnaya Ploshchad, the riverside spot where gay activists applied to hold their rally on May 28.
It was followed by a gay lobby march on Gogolyevsky Bulvar the next day, with activists vowing to hit the streets, regardless of municipal rulings, the following weekend.
Saturday’s meeting was postponed at first by rain, which one of the demonstrators blamed on the “Sobyanin lesbians.”
Once the thunder clouds had passed Vladimir Khomyakov, Narodny Sobor leader, took to the microphone and railed against Strasbourg’s ruling that City Hall bans on Gay Pride were illegal.
“The European Court of Human Rights adopted an atrocious decision when it allowed our mental perverts to rally,” he said, Kommersant reported. “They want their sickness to become the norm, but we won’t allow this!” he declared.
Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, added that the authorities had been right to ban it for fears of public disorder, “We are pleased that the government sided with the people. All the people are against this monstrous immorality,” he said.
Gay activists submitted an application to hold their march on April 12, expecting either a ban within 10 working days or default permission to hold their march. No ban came and on April 26 Nikolai Alexeyev, Moscow’s Gay Pride figure head, said the march had been allowed. The next day the authorities said it had not and that it was still considering the issue.
On May 17 the ban came through, saying that the right to peaceful assembly could be restricted in the interests of public order, health or morality, and that subsequently the march had been disallowed.
Alexeyev was unequivocal in his condemnation.
“We understand that there will be a lot of provocation on May 28. All these religious types, Narodny Sobor and nationalist organisations should be in jail for incitement to violence and murder and not dictating their will to the government,” he told Gazeta.ru.
Marchers on Sunday added to the theme, handing out flyers saying “Our main Goal is to destroy patriarchy in society.”
But while gay activists are determined to go ahead and show their pride on May 28 their opponents are no less committed.
“We will drive them off,” Yury Ageshchev, coordinator of the Orthodox Brotherhood of the Russian Orthodox Church told Kommersant. “True, last year we had some issues with the police and there were arrests, but this time we will not give up. It’s going to get hot,” he threatened.