By Rex Wockner
Several recent reports from Moscow said that officials had greenlighted this year’s May 28 gay pride parade, which would have marked the first time in its six years of existence that the parade wasn’t officially banned.
But on April 27, City Hall said those reports were incorrect and that organizers’ application is still being studied.
Pride co-organizer Nikolai Alekseev said it would not be surprising if the initial reports had been floated to gauge public opinion.
On April 11, Moscow Pride got a final ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that previous years’ pride bans by the city’s ex-mayor were illegal. The ECHR determined that the bans placed Russia in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination.
Pride organizers now are asking the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to help make sure the ECHR ruling is implemented.
“After this court decision … the Council of Europe must stand firm on our side,” said pride co-organizer Nikolai Baev. “We feel lonely.”
In previous years, when gays tried to hold pride events despite the city bans, the gatherings were attacked by anti-gay hooligans, picketed by religious protesters and broken up by riot police.
In related news, a recent poll commissioned by Moscow Pride and GayRussia.ru found that 56 percent of Muscovites have heard about the attempts to stage a pride parade in the city over the past six years.
Nationally, 33 percent of Russians have heard of the pride efforts.
Young people, people with more education, and people who live in midsize cities were more likely to have heard about Moscow Pride.
The Public Opinion Foundation poll, conducted April 20-24, quizzed a representative sample of 1,500 Russians from more than 100 cities in 44 regions of the nation. The margin of error is 3.6 percent.
Alekseev said it was “amazing” that so many people had heard of the efforts of “a small group of people like us without funding and without any institutional support.”