Saturday, February 18, 2006

GALHA vice-president speaks out against Russian homophobia

GALHA vice-president Michael Cashman MEP, who is president of the European Parliament's 'intergroup' on gay and lesbian rights, has spoken out condemning the statements that have come from Moscow during the past week.

"I will be raising this with the Human Rights Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, as well as the Commission," he said. "This kind of language and behaviour is totally unacceptable and gives an appalling insight into the discrimination, hatred and intolerance that the LGBT community face every day in Russia."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gay Humanists call on London's mayor to challenge his Moscow counterpart's ban on gay pride parade

The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has called on the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, to appeal to his counterpart in Moscow to lift the ban on a gay pride parade in the city.

The Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, has said that all attempts to organise a gay parade, in any form, open or disguised, will be "resolutely quashed". His press secretary, Sergey Tsoy, said that the reports about the proposed parade "have evoked outrage in society, in particular among religious leaders."

GALHA' secretary, George Broadhead, said: "We are asking Ken Livingstone to point out to the mayor of Moscow that a gay pride celebration is a recognition of lesbian and gay human rights and should be welcomed. It is not something to be disapproved of or banned." The GALHA letter praises Mr Livingstone for his long-standing support for lesbian and gay rights - notably his enthusiastic support for the London Pride events.

On Tuesday, Chief Russian Mufti Talgat Tajuddin said gays could be beaten if they go ahead with pride celebrations in the capital. "Muslims' protests can be even worse than these notorious rallies abroad over the scandalous cartoons," Tajuddin, of Russia's Central Spiritual Governance for Muslims, told the Interfax news agency.

Russia's Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, said on Thursday that anything promoting what he called "sexual perversions" does not have the right to exist. "I would like to assure you, that the parade of homosexuals is not less offensive to the feelings of believers than any caricatures in newspapers," Lazar said, linking the pride parade with the current furore over the cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed published in Denmark.

George Broadhead commented: "The comments by these religious leaders are crude, dangerous and totally abhorrent. Is it not an offence to incite violence against people in Russia? Are gay people so unacceptable that the authorities can give their approval to statements such as that of TalgatTajuddin that it is alright to attack them physically? The aggression of some Muslim extremists is such that it is quite likely that participants in any parade will be killed or seriously injured. These men of God or Allah are barbaric bigots."

Moscow religious leaders incite attacks on gays

Moscow Gay Pride banned

Religious groups threaten violence

London - 17 February 2006

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has announced that the city government will not allow a gay parade “in any form” and any attempt to hold a gay event will be “resolutely quashed”

The Mayor’s dictat follows statements by the Russian Chief Mufti threatening violence if the Pride parade went ahead.

Chief Mufti of Russia’s Central Spiritual Governance for Muslims Talgat Tajuddin said:

“Muslims’ protests can be even worse than these notorious rallies abroad over the scandalous cartoons,” Chief Mufti of Russia’s Central Spiritual Governance for Muslims Talgat Tajuddin said.

“The parade should not be allowed, and if they still come out into the streets, then they should be bashed,” he added.

Tajuddin declared: “Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime against God.”

He then called on Russian Orthodox members to join Muslims in formulating a violent response to Moscow Pride.

Not to be left out, Russian Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar said that if a gay pride was allowed to go ahead it "would be a blow for morality". He stopped short of calling for violence, but the Jewish community would not stand by silently. "Sexual perversions", he said, did not have a right to exist. Lazar said that gay pride marches were “a provocation” similar to cartoon depictions of Mohammed.

Moscow Pride organiser, meanwhile, has said that attempts to prevent the march will be challenged with court action, if necessary, all the way to the European Court ofhuman rights in Strasbourg.

Russian gay and lesbian activists announced in July that they would apply for a permit to hold pride celebrations in Moscow next May. If it is granted it would be the first pride parade ever held in the Russian capital. The projected date is May 27, 2006 — the anniversary of the abolition of Soviet laws against homosexuality in 1993.

Many well known gay rights campaigners from around the world will attend the first ever Gay Pride Parade in Russia, which coincides with the first International Day Against Homophobia conference. These include the British campaigners Michael Cashman MEP, Peter Tatchell of OutRage! and UK IDAHO co-ordinator Derek Lennard.

Also attending are the Deputy Mayor of Paris and several members of the European Council. Representatives from more than 30 countries will attend the Moscow International Gay Festival, which as well as Pride and the first IDAHO conference will include a series of talks by Mervin Holland, the grandson of Oscar Wilde, and a  day of “Russian and Scandinavian homoculture”.  

Derek Lennard, UK Correspondent for the International Day Against Homophobia said “The first Pride in Moscow is of enormous and enormous importance particularly to the LGBT communities in the Baltic and Eastern European Countries. All those who are able to take the freedom to organise Pride for granted will surely want show their support for the LGBT community in Moscow”

Peter Tatchell said: “These attempts by the Russian state and religious leaders to suppress the right to protest are a throwback to the bad old days of czarist and communist totalitarianism. No amount of threats and intimidation by the Mayor of Moscow, the Chief Mufti or the Chief Rabbi will halt the gay freedom struggle in Russia. The right to sexual self-determination and the right to protest are fundamental human rights that every democratic humanitarian nation must respect.”

The event is a week after the start of the Russian Presidency in the Council of Europe and just before the summit of G8 leaders in St Petersburg. President Putin has not commented on Pride or the threats of violence from religious leaders.

For further information:

The IDAHO-UK website is at: www.idaho-uk.orgThe international IDAHO website is www.idahomophobia.orgFor more information, email Derek Lennard at info@idaho-uk.orgFor info about Manchester events, email


Monday, February 06, 2006

'Darwin's Dream'

A GALHA/SPES Meeting, 7.30 pm, Friday 17 February 2006, library (first floor), Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1 (tube: Holborn).


A DVD preview of a sparkling new piece of multimedia music/theatre written by conductor-composer Graham Treacher, giving a revitalised slant to Charles Darwin's life and his theory of evolution by natural selection.

'Darwin's Dream' charts the history of the world from the Big Bang to the present day through Darwin's science, ideas and dreams. The work features opera singers, a chamber ensemble, and a cast of over 100 children. The London premiere is due to be performed at the Royal Albert Hall in Spring 2006.

The preview is a Darwin Day event jointly sponsored by GALHA and the South Place Ethical Society (SPES). Members of the musical work will be on hand to answer questions.

This is a public event with free admission, though donations are welcome.