Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eurovision: Gays go home

If you don't want your city to be visited by large numbers of gay men, Muscovites, it's probably not a good idea to host the Eurovision Song Contest.

Eurovision is being used as a focus for a day of gay rights activity in the capital - you'll recall the last major music-related gay rights event in Moscow didn't end well - and the Russian bigots are out in force:

Just across the road from a statue of Pushkin, a handful of demonstrators have put up a modest sign. It reads simply: "Moscow is not Sodom." As a cold wind whips through the Russian capital's Pushkinskaya square, activists hand out leaflets showing two men kissing, crossed out in angry red ink with the slogan: "Say no to spiritual terrorism."

Ah, it does say much about the family of man that Russian homophobic right-wing nutjobs are almost indistinguishable from American homophobic right-wing nutjobs. Under the skin, we're all the same. Apart from homosexuals, of course, who are different and wrong.

The mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, is proudly homophobic, but is faced with damage to the city's expensive investment in Eurovision if he stops the planned pride march - the Dutch have already said they won't sing if the march doesn't go ahead, and given they're one of the better entrants for the contest, an awkward, attention-drawing gap on the Saturday evening television across Europe might be a little too much attention.

On the other hand, maybe the mayor wouldn't want to ban the march, given that the likely painful results don't seem to be anything he worries much about:
Few are optimistic the rally will go off without trouble. "Groups of fanatics and extremists will be roaming the streets in the centre of Moscow looking for people to beat up," Nikolai Alekseev, the organiser of the Slavic Pride rally, told the Guardian. "Nobody will care. Moscow police will do nothing to protect them." Asked whether gay British fans should avoid travelling to Moscow this Saturday, he warned: "Everybody has to make their own choice. But they won't be safe."

Well, that's cheery then. The thought of gay people being beaten up by police is quite grisly, and the Guardian is quick to put it into some sort of context:
Nonetheless, there is now a distinct possibility that Russian nationalists and neo-Nazis will once again beat up gay demonstrators – as well as visiting Eurovision fans – in what would be a severe blow to Russia's international reputation and to Eurovision, already reeling from eastern European bloc voting scandals.

Yes, it's almost as bad having a secret policeman crack your skull open because you love other men as it for Terry Wogan to have to watch Bulgaria and Romania awarding each other twelve points each.