Gloucestershire Gay Pride has sent a letter of solidarity to the organisers of banned St. Petersburg Pride. Both Prides are scheduled for Saturday, June 26, with the LGBT activists in the second city of Russia vowing to march whatever the outcome of the appeals to the ban.
City Hall in St. Petersburg on Friday refused permission for the march, citing “construction work” along the route.
While construction works in Southgate Street, Gloucester, meant that the original route for Gloucestershire Pride could not be used, the authorities here soon came up with an alternative route, the UK Pride said in a statement last night.
According to St. Petersburg Pride organisers, the decision of the City Hall was homophobic. The authorities suggested the organisers came up with alternative routes, when under Russian law it is the authorities which have to provide a suitable alternative.
Gay men and women in St. Petersburg are saying that they intend to attempt to stage their Pride march, even though it could well be banned.
Much the same has happened over the past five years in Moscow when gays in the capital have tried to stage a Pride. In Moscow, there have been arrests by the police – and OMON security police – in addition to the beating of gays by ultra-right wing thugs.
“There is very little that we can realistically do, except let the LGBT community in St. Petersburg know that we fully support their efforts,” Gloucestershire Pride chair Chris Marsh said last night.
“The authorities in Gloucestershire, including the police, have given us their support. I hope that everyone will remember this on the day and remember that in St. Petersburg they are staging their very first Pride on the same day.
“Unlike here in Gloucester, the Russian authorities have put-up every obstacle imaginable – and have totally banned their march. But the brave gay men and women of Russia’s second city have vowed to march anyway.
“It might be of some consolation to those in St. Petersburg who will be defiantly exercise their right to peaceful assembly despite the ban, but we will be marching for them in Gloucester on Saturday.
“While we are fortunate to be able to have our Pride March with the encouragement of our local authorities and police, we must never forget those in countries where there are not such freedoms,” Mr. Marsh pointed out.
The Gloucestershire Pride committee is encouraging as many as possible who will be taking part in the streets of Gloucester to carry placards condemning the lack of LGBT human rights in Russia in general and in St. Petersburg in particular.
Participants should be aware that the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire will be speaking from the steps of the Shire Hall immediately prior to the march, the committee said. His counterpart in St. Petersburg could well be organising the arrest of participants.