The Walk with Pride Project
This is a gay issue.
This is a straight issue.
This is a human rights issue.
Walk With Pride (WWP) is a project to photograph and document gay pride parades around the globe. Our aim is to promote pride, empathy, and understanding on an international level, while highlighting the similarities and differences in gay rights and gay culture around the world.
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Monthly Archives: May 2010
No arrests. No police. No skinheads.
I’m pleased to report that the 5th Moscow Pride went extremely well. Waiting in the headquarters, before the Pride, with over 30 Russian, Belorussian, and International activists, everyone was nervous. Looking at the history of the Pride, and the 40 people arrested last year, those participating were fearing the worst, and hoping for the best.
What helped this year was the use of disinformation, which kept the police and skinheads far away from the real action. As the opposition gathered in front of city hall, gay pride activists marched in a different part of the city.
When we got the call the Pride was to begin, everyone quickly went in small groups to the designated area. As soon as activists arrived, the pride began. In Russian, there were shouts of “Russia without homophobes” and “Rights for gays,” while participants grabbed hold of the 20m flag, hand-sewn and brought in from Belorussia.
As quickly as it started, everything evaporated. The flag was folded up, and activists dashed in different directions. Police hadn’t arrived yet, but everyone knew they were coming. Only a few minutes after people scattered, and a police van pulled up. But, there was no one to arrest.
Much later, those who participated in the Pride began to gather to celebrate today’s victory. Let’s just say everyone was quite happy, especially proving the Mayor wrong who said no gay pride could take place in Moscow …
Photos to be posted very soon on http://www.walkwithpridenow.com
Video of the pride:
Earlier this morning there was another court hearing concerning the banned march. The opposition presented a feeble argument. Getting up before the judge, the opposition lawyer said the pride event was banned by the Mayor because a different event was already scheduled for that day, a rally in support of PM Vladimir Putin. When Nikolai got up to speak on the absurdity of this ‘Putin argument’, especially as he’d been the very first at the courthouse the day the law allowed applying for the permit, the judge couldn’t help but stifle a chuckle. However, in the end Gay Russia’s attempt to legally hold the march was futile.
While national world governments have not been vocal in supporting the Moscow Gay Pride march, a group of Human Rights activists here in Moscow have taken to the web using every press outlet they have to spread the word about what’s going on…
Tomorrow, we’ll have pictures and updates of
the 5th Moscow Pride.
We wait patiently in the Moscow courtroom. The judge is in his chambers deciding the legality of the 5th Moscow Pride march. Everyone stands as the judge returns. His announcement – the ban is upheld.
The “Walk with Pride” project is currently in Moscow to document the latest attempt to hold Moscow Pride. Each year the group Gay Russia, led by LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alekseev, has conflicts with the courts, Moscow’s homophobic Mayor Yury Luzhkov, the police, religious groups, and even neo-Nazis while attempting to demonstrate for equal rights.
While in Minsk, Chad had made contact with Nikolai and approached him about photographing the preparations for this year’s Moscow pride. Nothing was guaranteed, so we were more than a little relieved to get our first call from Nikolai on Wednesday morning asking if we’d like to accompany him to a preliminary hearing concerning the Mayor’s ban on Moscow Pride.
Over the next couple of days we are witness to many court hearings, but each failed to provide the group with the basic right of assembly.
On Thursday afternoon, following the most recent court decision to uphold the ban, a press conference is held. During this conference activist Peter Tatchell and other key members of Human Rights organizations, spoke out condemning the ban.
“He should be put on trial for violating the Russian constitution – the real criminals are not the organizers of Moscow Pride, but the Mayor of Moscow and the judges who uphold this illegal ban.” – Peter Tatchell, coordinator for the British HR group Outrage!
For a full report on the press conference, check out the UK Gay News report.
Country Details: Gay Rights and Culture in Russia
Russia LGBT Rights:
Homosexual Acts Legal? Yes
Same-sex Relationships Recognized? No
Same-sex Marriages Allowed? No
Same-sex Adoption Allowed? Not really
◊ If you are single you can adopt children regardless of sexual orientation, but same-sex couples can not adopt children
Can Gays Serve Openly in the Military? Yes, since 1993
◊ However, do to homophobia in the military, most choose not to serve openly.
Anti-discrimination Laws? No
Legislature Concerning Gender Identity? Yes
◊ Transexual and Transgender people can change their legal gender after undergoing medical procedures.
Cultural Points of Interest:
“Cracks in the Iron Closet: Travels in Gay and Lesbian Russia” is a book by David Tuller describing his travels exploring the underground gay world in Russia.
Gay.ru – A forum and community site for the Russian LGBT community. The website has information in both Russian and English, and over 15,000 articles/documents providing information for visitors to gay.ru.
A new gallery of images from Romania’s GayFest have now been posted!
Also, check out the WWP’s video of the event …
Bucharest had its’ pride march this Saturday – making it the country’s 6th. Unlike this morning when it down poured on the right-wing nationalists’ march, the sun was out and everyone seemed in positive spirits for the start of the GayFest event. Different than the past two marches the WWP project has visited, both Lithuania’s Baltic Pride and Belarus’s Slavic Pride – which were struggling to hold their first ever pride marches, this event was very different. There didn’t seem to be any anxiety or nervous tension among those who gathered to participate, just energy to begin the gay celebration.
The location for the GayFest march was very safe, but also isolated. While the two anti-homosexuality marches, “March for Families” and “March for Normality” walked from Revolution Square to Union Square down the main streets of Bucharest, and thus attracting attention from bystanders, this march went along the closed off streets of Union Square. While marching next to empty buildings kept those that disagreed with homosexuality away, this also meant that there were few people to witness the pride, besides the participants and the media.
Around 400 people were in attendance, with most of those participating in the event proudly displaying rainbow pride symbols, costumes, or Mardi Gras face masks. The British Council is a major sponsor of the pride activities in Bucharest, so there were a number of supporters from that organization who participated, all easily identifiable in red shirts. The media was in full force as the pride march geared up, with cameras and videos targeting the most colorful and unconventionally dressed participants.
Along the broad empty streets of Bucharest’s Union Square there was a gay celebration, and people had a good time. A DJ led the procession, as participants danced and smiled, waved rainbow flags and shot silly string. On reaching the huge Parliament Palace, a relic from the Communist era, speeches were given by Michael Cashman, a gay member of the EU Parliament, and Rev. Diane Fischer, from the US branch of the MCC (Metropolitan Community Church), both saying how pleased they were that Romania was able to have GayFest, and to be free to celebrate diversity.
While there were few banners dealing with Human Rights issues, or advocacy slogans being chanted, I did see a lot of people free to express themselves. This is a freedom that so many countries still deny members the LGBT community.
Romania is making progress toward acceptance, or at least tolerance of sexual minority groups, despite the small counter rallies held against the march. And, this really was a celebration, so different than the struggles that took place last week in Minsk.
However, personally I can’t help thinking how it’s still a shame that the march is hidden away and out of public view … with only the media available to bring a dramatized and distorted view to those in the general public.
Anyway, we were feeling optimistic as we left the march, glad the LGBT community had the freedom to hold the event. As Chad and I turned the corner back onto a main city street, a little blonde boy, no more than 8yrs old, runs up and shoves a bunch of sheets of paper in our hands before running off to rejoin his father who and siblings who are waiting for him. One of the sheets was in English …