Main | Thursday, December 11, 2008

Moscow's Mayor To Gay Eurovision Fans: Stay Off The Streets

Gay pride organizers in Moscow remained defiant even after their mayor used a Eurovision ceremony yesterday to warn homosexuals to stay off the streets during the famously loved-by-gays song contest.

The Mayor of Moscow has used a Eurovision Song Contest ceremony to warn gay people visiting the city for the event next year that they are not welcome on the streets. Yuri Luzhkov was receiving a set of symbolic keys from the Mayor of Belgrade, Dragan Dilas, in recognition of Russia's success at this year's Eurovision in Serbia. The winning country usually hosts the contest the following year.

Speaking at a press conference after the ceremony the Mayor, who has banned every gay rights march in Moscow since 2005, gave some advice to gay people coming to the city for Eurovision: "Entertain yourself, no problem, but not on the streets, squares, marches and demonstrations. We never introduced any limitations in their respect except public actions. We do not allow gay parades."

Moscow Pride organisers are confident that after years of bans, the eyes of the world on Russia may mean they can finally march. Russian and Belarussian activists are planning a Slavic Pride event in Moscow to coincide with the Eurovision final on May 16th. The semi-finals will be held on May 12th and 14th.

"Gay Pride public action during the final of Eurovision will take place in any circumstances," said Moscow Pride organiser Nicolas Alexeyev. "We are not going to surrender our right to freedom of assembly and expression because it is given to us not by Mayor Luzhkov but by the Constitution of this country."

Russian gay pride organizers have several cases pending in the European Court Of Human Rights to contest the parade bans.

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