Eurovision and Gay Rights

Regular readers will know of my deep love for Eurovision, which is coming up this Saturday. Reader Hippocampa has let us know, however, of a political aspect to this year’s contest which I’d missed. Apparently gay and lesbian rights demonstrations are illegal in Russia, host of this year’s Eurovision. Gay and lesbian activists are planning to organise a march on the occasion of Eurovision (which is a bit of a camp favourite, hence an appropriate venue for such a march). The Dutch entrant plans to withdraw from the contest if violence is used against gay activists, and according to Hippocampa he has the support of the Dutch government. As far as I know, no other countries or their contestants are lodging protests against the appalling Russian policy. (Do let me know if I’m wrong about this last– I’d love to be!)

6 thoughts on “Eurovision and Gay Rights

  1. It’s not _quite_ right to say that gay rights protests are illegal in Russia. Protests that do certain things (have any real size, use a street, etc.) need a permit. Permits are supposed to be given in almost all cases, according to the Russian constitution and case law. But, Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, has consistently refused to grant a permit on grounds that should not stand up in court. But, the Russian constitutional court, even if it were disposed to help gay rights protesters (I don’t know but wouldn’t want to bet on it), has been unable to make Luzhkov follow its rulings on many occasions in the past and, I suspect, isn’t eager to be shown up by him again. It’s a very weak court. (The law is quite weak in general in Russia.) So, the practical result is that gay rights protests are impossible in Moscow, but this is due to the lawless action of the mayor of Moscow, and not to Russian law in general. Such protests might well be (practically) possible in other cities, though the residual homophobia of the Soviet Union and the growing influence of the Orthodox church makes it unlikely.

  2. from bbc (which has finally decided to report on this!):

    But the city council has refused to give official permission for the march, while allowing hardcore nationalists and religious groups to stage a counter-demonstration on the same day.

    Gay activists have come under attack from such groups in the past.

    “We will still go ahead”, says Nikolai Alekseev, leader of Russia’s gay rights movement.’

    so, just as matt describes. and there’s more: the russian orthodox church seems to be sending in their youth group in full support of their being violent:

    “I think there’ll be a very tough reaction from a lot of our activists, and clashes are possible,” says Mikhail Nalimov, leader of United Orthodox Youth, which plans to bring 1,000 members of their organisation onto the streets.

    “The aim of the gay movement is to destabilise the country and society and we will not let this happen.”

    For Mr Nalimov, the fight against gay rights is a holy war for the soul of Russia, which will help determine the true identity of the country which emerged from communism almost 20 years ago.

    what a terrible state of affairs. knock wood europe actually takes notice.
    He describes gay activists as “spiritual terrorists” and wants to criminalise the promotion of homosexuality.

  3. hippocampa, you’re kidding! i’m going to be so cross if everyone just ignores this.

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