This year’s Eurovision song contest in Moscow has highlighted Russia’s tough stance against some of the event’s most ardent enthusiasts – the gay community. The Dutch entrants – De Toppers – said they would boycott the competition if the authorities clamped down on a banned gay parade planned for Saturday, the day of the final.
They were eliminated anyway in the semi-finals, but the focus of world attention on Moscow has turned the spotlight on Russian homosexuals’ struggle for greater equality. Earlier this week, a lesbian couple made a very public attempt to persuade a register office to marry them. They were refused, because same-sex unions are not legal. Right wing and religious groups are vehemently opposed to homosexuality. Mikhail Nalimov from the Union of Orthodox Christian Youth said: “The main goal of Gay Pride is to legalise sins in our society. (They want to show) that it is not a sin to be gay. They want gay marriages to be legalised, they want our orthodox priests to allow their church weddings. I can assure you this will not happen. We orthodox people will not let it happen.” Moscow’s mayor has called gay parades “satanic acts” and said any attempt to hold an unofficial march on Eurovision final day would meet tough action from police to stop it.