In St. Petersburg, Slavic Gay Pride participants are ready to be arrested at tomorrow's banned Gay Pride March

Organizers confirmed they will go ahead and march in the city center tomorrow at 2pm

In St. Petersburg, Slavic Gay Pride participants are ready to be arrested at tomorrow's banned Gay Pride March

Slavic Gay Pride Press Conference in St. Petersburg at Marriott Courtyard St. Petersburg, June 24, 2011. Photo GayRussia.Ru

"We will disobey the illegitimate and illegal decision taken by the St Petersburg officials to ban our Slavic Gay Pride March" said Yuri Gavrikov, the Parade Chief Organizer and Director of the local LGBT group "Equality".

The action will take place tomorrow at 2pm near the monument to Peter the Great. "A very symbolical place for us as he founded the city with European values" said Mr Gavrikov who added that participants from Moscow and Minsk will be present as well at the protest.

Asked about what they expect, the organizers answered that they expect to face police arrests and attacks by skinheads similar to what happened on May 28 when a similar action was conducted in Moscow.

Mr Gavrikov explained that in the last two weeks, his group applied for 4 different public events in 10 locations, hoping to have at least one authorized. The city hall turned down all 4 requests arguing of different motives such as among other the building of a roundabout, the threat of creating traffic accident or the presence of children.

Eventually, after the city hall suggested the city's industrial zone of Vyborg as an alternate location, the offer was finally withdrawn after the organizers agreed to it.

"This year, we won at the European Court of Human Rights against Russia over the Moscow Pride ban and last october, the St. Petersburg courts gave an unprecedented decision against the city hall for banning last year's Pride in this city, but nothing changes" said Nikolai Alekseev, Moscow Pride Organizer who will be marching in St. Petersburg tomorrow with his group.

Earlier this week, the Russian Parliament started to consider a new bill which would allow the Constitutional Court to block any decision given against Russia by the European Court of Human Rights. The bill proposed by MP Alexander Torshin aims to "protect national sovereignty"

This morning, six Members of the European Parliament sent a letter to St. Petersburg Governor, Valentina Matvienko, asking her to let the Pride goes tomorrow: "Opinions held by a majority have never been sufficient jusitification to restrict the human rights of any minority" said the MEPs in their joint letter.

However, organizers said thet the EU delegation in Russia did not answer their request to issue a statement of support. A spokesperson for the delegation told UkGayNews by phone that the request had been forwarded to the European External Action Service in Brussels and that no statement will come from the delegation in Moscow.

This week, 39 Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe signed a written declaration condemning last month Moscow Gay Pride ban and the lack of commitment of Russia to the principles of the Council of Europe.

Next year's Slavic Pride over the boarder

After Moscow (2009), Minsk (2010) and St. Petesrburg, next year's Slavic Gay Pride will take place between Finland and Russia.

"We will start near the Finnish boarder and cross the boarder to Russia" said Nikolai Alekseev.

"The Slavic Gay Pride movement is trans-national, melting activists from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, so we thought we must be the first to organize a Gay Pride march over the boarder, plus, we believe that by starting in Finland, we might finally have a chance to march legaly at least for the first part." concluded Mr Alekseev.


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May 27

Russia decriminalized male homosexuality

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.

May 17

Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

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.

May 15

Slavic Gay Pride in Minsk

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.

May 12

Lesbian same-sex couple attempt to register marriage in Moscow

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.

April 11

Victory for Russian LGBT activists at 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.