By Rex Wockner
LONDON – Homophobic Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov was criticized by the mayors of London, Berlin and Paris as the four men gathered in London, along with the mayor of Beijing, for their annual summit in late February.
Luzhkov banned last year’s first Moscow gay pride parade, has repeatedly promised to ban this year’s parade, and recently called gay pride parades “satanic.”
Speaking at a London press conference Feb. 28, Luzhkov said he opposes gay parades because Russia is against “propagating” and “promoting” homosexuality, which is “wrong and unusual.”
“In Russia … it’s already 14 years ago the law has been adopted that canceled the previous bill stipulating the prosecution of the sexual minorities,” Luzhkov said. “From then onwards, we have a lot of gay clubs. We don’t know how many citizens, for example, have this unusual sexual orientation, but the gay clubs are free to carry out their sexual activity. What we say is that we are against propagating, we are against promoting. Like any other society, we want to protect ourselves from the promotion of alcohol and tobacco. When we promote smoking, it’s bad, it’s wrong. [T]hrough the gay parade you promote some uncertain people and it becomes an invitation to acquire this quality of the sexual minorities. [It is saying that] this is OK, that’s normal, this is useful. Our view is that it is wrong and unusual. Let the gay people do what they do, but they shouldn’t involve other citizens of our country.”
Openly gay Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe was not amused.
“You do not become homosexual, there is no risk of propaganda,” Delanoe said to Luzhkov at the press conference. “This is not a disease you catch at some point. It is somehow part of our identity. Some of us have brown skin, some of us have fair skin, some of us have brown eyes, some of us have blue eyes. We are born heterosexual or homosexual. And that’s it.”
Gay-friendly London Mayor Ken Livingstone said that in private talks, he and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who also is openly gay, similarly criticized Luzhkov’s ill-informed notions.
In response to another question at the press conference, Luzhkov reiterated his threat to prohibit this year’s planned march.
“I am not going to allow the gay parade,” he said. “The final decision is taken by the court. If the court takes a decision in favor of allowing the gay parade, then the participants are free to do it. Last year, the court supported my decision and the gay parade didn’t take place. But if the gay parade is not allowed, that is according to the law.”
Last year’s ban led organizers to replace the planned parade with attempts to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and hold a rally across from City Hall. Participants in both small events were violently attacked by neofascists, skinheads, Christians and riot police. Organizers say they will try to march again this year, on May 27.
They have filed suit in the European Court of Human Rights over last year’s ban, seeking a determination of their right to march and $26,000 in damages.