Gay activists conduct first legal demonstration in Moscow

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, dismissed from office Sept. 27
by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. 
As an American citizen currently residing in the Russian Federation I have taken a particular interest in the recent development in Moscow regarding Yuri Luzhkov, the now former mayor of Russia’s capital, who was recently fired after a series of scandals led the President to lose confidence in his leadership.

Mr. Luzhkov has been an adamant opponent of homosexuals.

I chose the words of that statement very purposefully as there is a difference between opposing the homosexual agenda, opposing homosexuality and opposing homosexuals themselves.

Yuri Luzhkov’s actions against the gay and lesbian community during his tenure as Moscow’s Mayor went beyond the pale.

Chapter 2, Article 31 of Russia’s Constitution reads: “Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings and demonstrations, marches and pickets.”

Yet year after year, Mr. Luzhkov refused to grant gays and lesbians permission to do so, claiming a gay pride parade, for example, would be ‘satanic’. To make matters worse, every time they held a rally or demonstration in spite of the ban, Mayor Luzhkov had the police break up the rally and arrest the participants.

Besides denying gay and lesbian Russian citizens their constitutionally-protected right to a peaceful assembly, Yuri Luzhkov is on record publically insulting them, singling them out and calling them ‘faggots’, among other slurs.

This is the kind of rhetoric we could do without and although I recognize that his rhetoric and opposition to gays and lesbians is not related to his removal from office on September 27, in the name of human and constitutionally protected rights I praise President Dmitri Medvedev’s decision to fire him.

The gay and lesbian community in the United States plays the victim status like champions yet the discrimination and harassment they face is nothing compared to what existed under Mayor Luzhkov.

As a side note it would be pertinent to give Mr. Luzhkov credit for, over the course of the last 18 years, transforming Moscow into a modern and commercial metropolis of the 21st century. That will likely be the legacy that he leaves behind and the people of Russia will remember him for that.

A gay activist on September 21, a week
before Mayor Luzhkov was fired.
That is why I was I fact delighted to read the headline in The Moscow News, a newspaper currently celebrating 80 years in print, that reads: “Moscow police protect gay protesters”.

Apparently, three days after Luzhkov was removed from office, gays and lesbians assembled together in Moscow and held their first legal demonstration. The police came in heavy numbers but this time they were protecting the protesters and the two that were arrested were counter-protesters, men dressed in black in opposition to them.

Nikolai Alekseyev, a well-known gay rights activist in Russia, said the event was historic. “Sexual minorities for the first time ever were able to demonstrate while being protected by the Russian police. I think this is a historic day.”

The same gay activist on October 1,
three days after Mayor Luzhkov was fired.
Indeed it was. These are the kind of rights that all must support for gays and lesbians and I stand with them today in support of these rights, in praise of Moscow’s police and with hope for continued progress.

Out of fairness it should also be mentioned that the permit for this rally wasn't specifically for a gay rights demonstration but was connected to the recent unexplained arrest and detention of a gay activist. City officials said if the demonstration's message changed beyond what the permit for the rally specified, that the police would be ordered to break up the demonstration.

However, I must reiterate that while we support the basic human and constitutional rights of gays and lesbians, there is no right to marry a person of the same sex. Let us all understand the difference between gay rights, which are parallel to human rights, and the pursuit of same-sex marriage, of which there is no right.

This right does not exist in the Russian constitution.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in June that:
"Article 12 enshrined the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The court acknowledged that a number of contracting states had extended marriage to same-sex partners, but went on to say that this reflected their own vision of the role of marriage in their societies and did not flow from an interpretation of the fundamental right as laid down by the contracting states in the Convention in 1950."
It doesn’t exist in the U.S. Constitution, either. Rookie Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan took that position in her confirmation hearings and the same idea is supported by federal precedent in Baker v. Nelson.


Anonymous said...

SCOTUS' ruling on Baker v Nelson established precedent that baker v nelson, as the facts existed in 1972, bore no "substantial federal question."

It is no longer 1972.

It is also not 1803 but yet we continue to support the ideas of judicial review as established in Marbury v. Madison.

And Baker v. Nelson is currently the federal precedent on the matter. I agree that there is a substantial federal question at hand today but until that question is addressed and the current precedent overturned, then it stands in effect.

Anonymous said...

i didnt realize that wanting equal rights as a gay person is an "agenda"

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