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Russian gay activists say EU fails to show support

Russian gay activists say EU fails to show support

Gay rights activists vowed Thursday to hold a rally outside the European Union's office in Moscow, despite a ban, to highlight what they say is a lack of support from the EU in their struggle for freedom of expression in Russia.
Russian and Western activists blasted European national governments and the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, for denying them permission for a gay parade on the grounds of an embassy. That would have greatly reduced the threat of violence to which activists are subjected while meeting in Russia.
"I was shocked by how these embassies sold human rights for the sake of economic interests," Nikolai Alexeyev, a gay rights activist, told a press conference.
He said activists would meet Saturday outside the European Commission's office in Moscow despite a ban by the city government.
It is the fifth year straight city authorities have banned the Gay Pride parade, which routinely results in violence and arrests. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has described homosexuals as "satanic."
"We will continue this battle until we win the rights of all Russian citizens _ gay and straight _ to express themselves freely without any ban or harassment," said Peter Tatchell, a British activist who has been beaten and arrested in previous rallies in Russia in recent years.
Alexeyev said that organizers, knowing their petition for a rally this year would be rejected, turned to Western embassies for help but were turned away.
"I'm outraged by hypocritical stance of Western governments toward this event," he said.
Rally organizers were unsure how many would participate in the parade, but said violence was a possibility given the lack of willingness by Russian police to protect activists.
Decades of official persecution of Russian gays ended in 1993 with the decriminalization of homosexuality, but opposition to gay rights remains widespread. Russian spiritual leaders have claimed that homosexuality threatens the country's traditional values.
Activists expressed confidence that the European Court of Human Rights, to which Russia belongs, would soon rule in their favor and declare the Moscow bans a violation _ clearing the way for future rallies to be held without obstacles.


Updated : 2021-05-07 13:18 GMT+08:00