City Denies Request by Organizers of LGBT Rally
Published: July 23, 2014 (Issue # 1821)
City authorities have issued their first refusals to the organizers of the annual St. Petersburg LGBT Pride rally to be held in the city on Saturday, July 26, which is aimed at “drawing the attention of the public and the state to the problems of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people and supporting tolerance and equality towards the social group LGBT.”
As a response, the organizers, LGBT rights movement Ravnopraviye (Equality), have said they are planning to hold the event in any case, most likely in the so-called “Hyde Park,” a sector of the Field of Mars, where under a local law public events can be held without a permit after notifying the authorities.
“We are confident in our right to public assemblies stated in the constitution and we will insist on it by any means possible, including taking to the street in case of another groundless ban from the city authorities,” they said in a statement.
By the end of Monday, city authorities and the administrations of two districts refused to authorize every site in the city center and on Vasilievsky Island proposed by the organizers for holding the rally, said Yury Gavrikov, the chairman of Ravnopraviye.
The refusals were described by Gavrikov as “classic.” In past years, authorities said that certain sites could not be used due to construction projects in the proposed site, while the rally could not be held in other locations because it would obstruct pedestrians from walking there, violating their rights.
One site was rejected because another event will reportedly be held there from noon to 7 p.m. According to the city government, the authorized event plans to “educate the public on mutual understanding and solving problems in various spheres of life, as well as to help the city in forming a civilized society where every person is a useful member of society.”
Apparently aiming to humiliate, the authorities offered alternative sites — as they are obliged to do by law — at remote locations with no public around, Gavrikov said.
One of the suggested sites was the village of Novosyolki near the border between St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, next to a forest, a cemetery and a dumping ground.
The city authorities have now suggested Novosyolki for the St. Petersburg LGBT Pride event for the third year in a row. In a tongue-in-cheek protest, LGBT rights activist Kirill Kalugin reacted by filing an application in which he proposed to hold a march in Novosyolki for declaring the village “St. Petersburg’s gay district” and establish a museum of the history of the St. Petersburg LGBT movement there, Gavrikov said.
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