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Rainbow flags set to fly in Moscow

BY NOREEN FAGAN: After a five-year struggle, activists in Moscow have received permission
to organize a gay pride parade on May 28. Nikolai Alexeyev, Russia’s most
prominent gay rights activist is, naturally, enthusiastic about the decision.
Alexeyev’s relationship with Russian authorities has, in the past, been
tenuous and fraught with fear and intimidation.

Russian authorities detained Alexeyev in September 2010. He
was kept in “custody” and told to withdraw his complaints against the Russian Federation
at the European Court of Human Rights regarding ongoing violations of the
right to free assembly for queer people in Russia.

Alexeyev was freed three days later. He did not withdraw
his complaint and instead of seeking asylum in Belarus (as was the buzz) he
returned home to Russia.

The latest turnaround in the Russian authorities’ decision to
allow gay pride is cause for celebration, but it doesn’t come without some concessions
and there is still doubt about whether it will actually happen.

The parade will be advertised as an educational event called Gay Pride: Homosexuality in the History of World Culture and
Civilization. The number of participants has been capped at 500 — and the
kicker in all this is that Moscow’s mayor has not yet granted permission. On Tuesday April 26, Alexeyeve stated that it was the city council who had approved the parade, but without the Mayor’s go ahead that seems unlikely.

In the latest report, deputy mayor Lyudmila Shvetsova said she has not yet given permission for a gay pride parade in Moscow.

"Their [the gay pride parade organizers’] appeal has been addressed to me. Work
is being done in line with a procedure existing in the Moscow city
administration. We are studying these proposals, and they will receive an
answer within due time,” she said.

Earlier attempts to stage gay rallies in Moscow have been
brutally suppressed — Moscow’s former mayor Yury Luzhkov referred to homosexuality
as “satanic.” President Dmitry Medvedev fired Yury Luzhkov in September 2010 ending the mayor’s 18-year old rule over Moscow.

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