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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 18:26 GMT
Moscow urged to end gay pride ban
By Steven Eke
BBC News

Ken Livingstone and Yuri Luzhkov (file picture)
Ken Livingstone (L) said Moscow had to respect universal human rights
London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, has called on his counterpart in Moscow to scrap a controversial ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital.

The mayors of Berlin and Paris also urged Moscow's Yuri Luzhkov to rethink.

Gay pride marches have still not been held in Moscow, where religious leaders warn they would cause outrage and provoke violence on the streets.

Mr Livingstone urged Russian officials to act in what he called "the spirit of respect for universal human rights".

He told Mr Luzhkov, the flamboyant and popular mayor of Moscow, that equality meant there was a right to hold events marking the contribution of lesbian and gay communities to city life.

Hostile attitudes

A number of Europe's best known gay activist groups, like Outrage, have threatened to take what they call direct action in Moscow if the city does not change its policy.

Russia's capital, with its population of some nine million people, is home to a large and thriving gay community.

BEING GAY IN RUSSIA
In Russian slang, a gay man is "blue" (goluboy) and a gay woman "pink" (rozovaya)
Homosexual acts in Russia were punishable by prison terms of up to five years until 1993

But it largely prefers to remain discreet.

Male homosexuality was strictly illegal in Soviet times. Although legalised more than a decade ago, popular social attitudes remain conservative and often very hostile.

A proposal to hold a gay pride march after a forthcoming conference on fighting homophobia led to angry protests from Orthodox and Muslim groups.

Russian gay organisations accused the country's chief mufti of trying to incite violence after he called for believers to stone gays and lesbians demonstrating in public.

Moscow's city council, citing the potential for violence, subsequently declared an all-out ban.

That move drew criticism not only from Russian activists, but also from a number of senior European politicians and well-known personalities.


SEE ALSO:
Gay pride challenges Moscow
17 Feb 06 |  Europe
Gay Pride weathers Belfast storm
06 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland


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