A new gay ban in Moscow
Hot on the heels of October’s European court ruling that the ban on gay rights parades in Moscow violated the freedom of assembly, right to effective remedy and protections against discrimination, Moscow’s new mayor has put a stop to a planned parade in Lubyanka Square.
The Russian LGBT Network planned to demonstrate in support of those who have been convicted of the law that criminalised consensual sexual relations between men. Other activists were due at the event, including Lyudmila Alekseeva and Nina Tagankina from the Moscow Helsinki Group.
The law was introduced in 1933 and was the 121st Article of the Russian Soviet Federalist Socialist Republic Criminal Code. Consensual sex between men was punishable by up to 5 years in prison — while the same article specified that the sentence was increased by up to 3 years in cases of rape.
It is unknown how many men were convicted and jailed under Article 121. In 1993, it was noted that not all prisoners who had been jailed for homosexuality had been released when the law was overturned. Because of missing records many prisoners could not be located. According to some sources, there were as many as 1000 convictions a year during the 1980s.
In 2008, the Russian LGBT Network — Russia’s only interregional LGBT rights organisation — declared December 17 a Day of Rememberance for those LGBT who were victims of political oppression. This year, they planned a demonstration in front of the old KGB buildings to encourage the government to exonerate those convicted under the overturned soviet-era law. The law was first published on December 17th before it was made law.
The European Court decision is not yet in force as Russia has until January 21, 2011 to appeal the decision. The organiser of Moscow Pride, Nikolai Alekseev, believes that no appeal will be heard and that Moscow’s Gay Pride parade in 2011 will be a state-sanctioned event. He has also called the decision to disallow the Lubyanka Square demonstration “illegal”.
The organisers have not yet indicated whether they will proceed with the demonstration or if they will comply with the ban.
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