----- Original Message ----- *From:* [EMAIL PROTECTED]
*Subject:* Belarusian, Russian Activists Agree a Slavic Gay Pride for Moscow
in May Next Year

 *Belarusian, Russian Activists Agree a Slavic Gay Pride for Moscow in May
Next Year*

 *Will then alternate between Moscow and Minsk*

The first trans-national meeting of gay activists from Russia and Belarus
has agreed that there should be a Slavic Gay Pride, which alternates each
year between Moscow and Minsk.

The agreement came at the weekend when activists from GayRussia.Ru and the
Moscow Pride organising committee met for the first time with Belarusian
groups Gay.by and Gayby.by, the Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender
Equality and the LGBT Rights Committee of the Belarusian Green Party.

"We were looking to cooperate with Belarusian gay activists this year, but
until recently we believed that local activists were not yet ready for
public events," said Moscow Pride chief organiser Nikolai Alekseev.

"The turning point was last month when 20 activists took the streets of
Minsk to hold an informal –and unsanctioned – gay march. This was the signal
for us," he added.

The agreement will mean that Moscow Pride, which is being organised every
year since May 2006, will become the Slavic Gay Pride, Belarusian activists
travelling to Moscow next May to join the march on Saturday May 16, the day
of the iconic Eurovision Song Contest final, a 'favourite of the European
gay community.

"In 2010, we will attempt to organise the Pride in Minsk – it will be our
turn to host the event," said Sergey Androsenko, leader of the Belarusian
Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality.

The activist from both countries also wrote a joint letter to Belarusian
President Alexander Lukashenko demanding equality for sexual minorities in

They also asked the Belarus government to meet them.

GayRussia.Ru activists promised the Belarusians access to their network and
contacts and pledged that they would make available their experience for gay
rights lobbying.

Over the next few weeks, activists will launch a lobby campaign in the
European Parliament insisting that European Union includes LGBT rights in
its discussion with the Lukashenko regime.

Last week, the European Commission sent a delegation to Minsk in order to
discuss prospects for the development of relations between the European
Union and Belarus.

"We will help our Belarusian colleagues as much as we can," said Mr.

"In our eastern [European] countries, the gay movement needs courage and
emotions more than money. As soon as you pull money in Russian
organizations, it always ends something and only starts quarrels," he added.

Mr. Androsenko said that the Russian group had succeeded in raising
attention towards gays and lesbians in Russia in the last three years.

"We followed their actions on the internet, and we are honoured we could
meet those who unveiled a [Rainbow] banner in front of the windows of the
Moscow Mayor's office.

"In general, we have a lot to learn from activists from other countries," he
continued. "No one ever come to Belarus. The destination is not appealing
for foreigners."

With Belarus currently expelled from the Council of Europe, gay men and
women are not protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr.
Alekseev pointed out.

"For us, in Russia, things are different – we have every chances to win our
165 appeals against Russia in the Strasbourg Court.

"But Belarusians can't even make an appeal.

"Since EU has only just lifted the travel ban of high ranking Belarus
officials, we believe that the regime will think twice before confronting
the EU on gay rights issues.

"If you ban the Russian politicians from flying to Nice or Courchevel, they
will be the first to organize a gay pride – most of them spend more time
abroad than in Russia," he said.

There is a political logic between the 'union' of Russian and Belarusian
gays and lesbians. In 1996, under President Yeltsin, Russia and Belarus
entered into the Commonwealth of Russia and Belarus, now simply Union State
of Russia and Belarus – and not unlike the EU in concept, with member
nations retaining sovereignty.

The Union includes a joint Parliament, a rotating head of State, visa and
custom free regime as well as other economic agreements on taxes and
residence rights.

*GayRussia.Ru, UkGayNews.Org.Uk*

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