World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Russia: Investigate Attacks on Gay Pride March

Russia: Investigate Attacks on Gay Pride March

Freedoms of Assembly and Expression Must Be Protected

(Moscow) – Russian authorities must launch a full investigation into the violent attacks on peaceful gay pride activists in Moscow on May 27 and prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said today. The investigation must also encompass the police response to the attacks. Human Rights Watch called on the authorities to drop charges against participants in pride events for taking part in “an unsanctioned demonstration.”

Human Rights Watch documented the violence in a briefing paper released today, and called on Russian officials to fulfill their obligation to protect human rights by refraining from homophobic rhetoric and ensuring that freedoms of expression and assembly are upheld.

“Victims of prejudice and violence deserve full justice,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, who witnessed the events in Moscow first-hand. “The authorities in Moscow have endorsed discrimination and fostered an environment that allowed hatred to rise. Now they must investigate these attacks, and ensure that civil liberties and personal security are not hostage to homophobia.”

On May 27, several dozen Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, accompanied by Russian and foreign supporters, sought to hold two successive protest rallies, one to lay flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin Wall, and the second a vigil at City Hall in support of freedoms of assembly and expression. Organizers of Moscow’s lesbian and gay pride festival decided to hold these events after a court upheld Mayor Yuri Luzkhov’s ban on a pride march planned for that day.

At the sites of both events, hundreds of anti-gay protesters, including skinheads, nationalists, and Orthodox followers, attacked the participants, beating and kicking many, while throwing projectiles and chanting, “Russia free of faggots! Death to sodomites!”

Skinheads punched Volker Beck, a gay member of the German parliament, and struck him with a rock, injuring his eye. Police briefly detained Beck. Others detained included parade organizers Nikolai Alexeyev and Yevgenia Debrianskaia.

“At both sites police at first seemed to allow the skinheads and others free rein to assault lesbians and gays,” said Long. “When police finally intervened, they forced the two groups closer together, aggravating the violence. They failed totally to protect people peacefully trying to exercise their rights.”

On May 18, Luzhkov formally banned a proposed pride parade. Days before the planned event, he stated: “If any one has any deviations from normal principles in organizing one’s sexual life, those deviations should not be exhibited for all to see.”

“Instead of leading Muscovites to embrace equality, Mayor Luzhkov supported and promoted homophobia,” said Long. “Given this failure of leadership, the violent ending should surprise no one.”

Internal documents from the mayor’s office seen by Human Rights Watch indicate the office sponsored a sustained campaign against measures in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender persons. In one document, dated March 2006, Luzhkov advised subordinates that: “It is necessary to take concrete measures to prevent holding public and mass gay events in the capital.” He instructed them to: “Organize an active campaign in the mass media... using appeals from citizens and religious and public organizations.”

In another March memorandum, deputy mayor Liudmila Shvetsova told the mayor, “A law can be promulgated to limit the rights or freedoms of [gay or lesbian] people.” She urged that “the competent executive bodies... identify concrete measures for banning any actions, including public ones, involving propaganda and holding gay festivals or gay parades.”

Several people in addition to Volker Beck were brutally beaten by anti-gay extremists on May 27. Pierre Serne, a French activist, was physically attacked twice and suffered injuries to his eye, shoulders, back, arm, and leg. Kurt Krickler, an Austrian activist, was beaten by skinheads on the street.

At least six lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists and their supporters were arrested and charged with organizing or participating in an “unsanctioned demonstration.” All are believed to have been freed the same evening and may face fines for their alleged offences. Several dozen anti-gay protestors were also detained and later released, most also facing similar charges relating to participation in unsanctioned demonstrations.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news