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."


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