Banging Fists Against City Halls Walls
September 5, 2001
Ulitsa Vyborgskaya 16, Bldg. 4, 125212 Moscow, Russia
By Anna Badkhen
Mayor Yury Luzhkov this summer banned two shows that would have changed
One was Portuguese bullfightinga brutal show that involves blood,
violence, and, in some cases, death.
In Portuguese bullfighting, the animal is stabbed with barbed darts.
Portuguese bullfighting is considered more humane than its Spanish version,
where matadors end the fight by slashing the bull with a 10-pound sword. The
Russian capital, where brutality and pain are the order of the day, has never
seen such refined cruelty before. Luckily for the bulls, it doesnt look
like it will see it anytime soon.
The other show Luzhkov outlawed was a Love Parade, which the mayors
office equated with a Gay Pride parade.
What is there in common between a gay parade and bullfighting? Nothing, if
you ask me. During a Gay Pride parade, gay women and men walk peacefully down
some street announcing that they are gay. The only blood shed at such
demonstrationsincluding the one that would have taken place during City
Day festivities last weekend, had Luzhkov granted the permissionis
A Gay Pride parade is a declaration of a right to love and an attempt to
open the minds of prudish and homophobic creatures. Alas, Moscows
homosexual community did not manage to overcome the prudishness of the capitals
narrow-minded and homophobic mayor. Homosexuality, in City Halls opinion,
"goes against traditional moral values of most Russians, as well as the
canons of the main religious confessions in the city." When the citys
gay community received this statement, they must have felt like they had been
banging their bare fists against a brick wall.
The law of independent Russia doesnt throw homosexual men in jail for
five years, like the Soviet law did. (Gay women were never punished, perhaps
because nothing women did apart from winning Olympic gold for figure skating
and gymnastics was ever taken seriously in this country.) Still, gays are not
considered equal members of society. When in his City Day opening speech
Luzhkov said City Hall "does not forget for a minute about its
responsibility before Moscow residents," he obviously didnt mean the
citys homosexual men and women.
Another group of people Luzhkov apparently forgot when he made his speech
were Moscows Chechens. And Georgians and Armenians and Azeris and Ingushanyone who, to the citys vigorous policemen, looks Chechen and who
therefore gets harassed and even tortured every day because of the way they
Moscows Chechens probably chose to stay at home for last weekends
holiday. After all, they had almost had their chance to demonstrate for their
rights on Pushkin Square, in the heart of Moscow, in June. Unfortunately,
Luzhkov banned that demonstration, too. The mayor said the grim topic of the
protesthuman rightswould have interfered with the festive mood of
another event that was taking place in town: the 2001 Theater Olympics.
Welcome to Moscow, the 854-year-old city of fair-skinned, blond, straight
And happy, healthy bulls.
- Anna Badkhen is a freelance correspondent based in Moscow.
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