WASHINGTON, May 30 — Acting to enforce Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's ban on the city’s first-ever Gay Pride March, perhaps as many as 100 lesbian and gay participants were arrested by police, including Nicolas Alexeyev, principal organizer. Other reports indicate that police and anti-gay protesters, linked with fascist groups, injured gay and lesbian participants, including Volker Beck, an openly gay member of the German Parliament and prime sponsor of Germany's domestic partnership law, and Oscar Wilde's grandson, Merlin Holland. British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell filed a first-hand account from Moscow, saying, "We were immediately set upon by about 100 fascist thugs and religious fanatics who began pushing, punching and kicking us. They snatched flowers out of our hands and abused us with chants of 'No sodomy in Moscow' and 'Put the pederasts on the iron' and 'Russia is not Sodom.' We were pushed and carried like corks on a sea of fascist pushing and shoving…Groups of roaming neo-Nazis stormed around the square looks for gays and lesbians to attack."
In banning not only the parade but also any meetings around it, Mayor Luzhkov cited "moral" reasons, saying: "I believe that such a parade is inadmissible in our country above all for moral considerations. People should not make public their deviations." He deployed 1,000 officers to enforce his order, one-quarter of the city's entire police force.
(Note: Many thanks to Doug Ireland for following the situation so closely.)
Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive DirectorNational Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
"The state-sanctioned violence that was inflicted on peaceful gay and lesbian activists in Moscow is sickening and appalling. We call upon the Bush administration to immediately condemn the attacks and to insist from the Russian government not only an apology and compensation to the victims, but a thorough investigation and a commitment to uphold the rights of gay and lesbian Russians to meet and march in peace."