2009: Moscow host First Slavic Gay Pride Festival, from May 21 to May 24
Fourth Moscow Pride was renamed the first "Slavic Pride" following the decision between Russian and Belarusian Pride Organizers to create the Slavic Pride movement in November 2008. The Pride itself was once again banned though organizers had hoped that due to the hosting of the Eurovision in Moscow, Federal authorities would try to solve the issue.
Organizers decided to hold their event on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest Finale which was taking place in Moscow on that year. This edition marks also the launch of the campaign for same sex unions in Russia initiated by GayRussia. A week before the Pride, GayRussia arranged the attempt to wed of a female same sex couple in Moscow. The ZAGS denied to issue a marriage license to the couple but media showed a wide interest in this campaign which allowed to kick off discussion in the Russian society.
The format of this first Slavic Pride was put under the Russian-Belarusian Friendship and direct activism. A group of 18 Belarusian activists came to Moscow and spent together with Russian activists 3 days seminars, training, and discussions, formal and informal in a cottage outside Moscow. They also took this opportunity to prepare for the planned march. Only 2 foreigners were invited to take part by the organizers. Peter Tatchel from the direct action group OutRage! and Andy Thayer from gay Liberation Network.
While discussing the different variants that were available, organizers stressed that even though it would be difficult to avoid police arrest of the participants, the violence from skinheads had to be avoided at all costs. As a result, while the Pride March was announced on Pushkinskaya Square, one hour before the event, organizers informed all accredited media that the location was changed to Vorobio Hills, near the Moscow State University. In this timeframe, it was not possible for the group of skinheads already in place on Pushkinskaya to relocate. While the participants all arrived by bus to the place, they mentioned that militia was already there. They managed to host a short protest while they were being arrested. This location symbolized the campaign for same sex marriage initiated a week earlier by GayRussia as Vorobio Hills is the place were newly married couples come to photo themselves. Most of the participants were arrested. Some were kept overnight in custody.
The Pride action and the arrest was monitored by Diplomats from the US, UK, Netherlands, Finnish Embassies.
The First Slavic Gay Pride was filmed by a French TV crew which recorded the backstage of the 3 days as well as the Pride.
TODAY IN HISTORY
In 1993, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree which repealed the law forbidding male homosexuality. Starting from 2006, Russian gay rights activists started to celebrate this date by attempting to organize an annual gay rights march known as Moscow Gay Pride. The first edition was banned and marred with violence. It was reffered as the first Russian Stonewall.
This day was founded in 2004 by French Academic Louis-Georges Tin to mark the anniversary of the declassification of homosexuality from the list of disease by the World Health Organization. Russian LGBT have been celebrating this day every year since 2005 under the leadership of Project GayRussia which was itself founded on May 17, 2005. GayRussia is Russia's coordinator of IDAHO.
Following Moscow in May 2009, Minsk was the second capital to host the Slavic Gay Pride. The March was banned and marred with violence but it did not prevent two dozens of Pride organizers from Moscow, Minsk and St. Petersburg to march over 300 meters waiving a 10meters long rainbow flag. 11 participants including some of the organizers were brutally arrested by police forces.
2009 marked the launch of GayRussia's campaign for the opening of same-sex union of gays and lesbians in Russia. While the Constitutional Court already expressd the opinion that marriage is between a man and a woman, activists believe that the lack of partnership or marriage for gay couples is a strong point to impose legislative changes via a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.
The five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber of the Court rejected the appeal of the Russian Federation in the Moscow Pride Ban case. The decision given on October 21 is final. By repeatedly banning Gay Pride Marches as well as other LGBT themed public action, Russia breached the European Convention on Human Rights.