Saturday, 16 May 2009

Will Eurovision do the right thing tonight?

Tonight is the Eurovision Song Contest, and my household were planning on watching. We haven’t the slightest interest in the UK entry winning, but we do love the naff excess and wanted to see if Terry Wogan’s successor, Graham Norton, could equal Tel’s waspishness without sinking to his racism.
Now we have another reason to watch Norton & the show closely, one closer to this blog’s heart, and so do you.
See for news on how a gay gathering in Moscow, timed to coincide with both the gay-friendly Eurovision and IDAHO (International day Against Homophobia), has been broken up by police and participants, including Peter Tatchell, arrested. Curious, by the way, that while Moscow Pride was outlawed by Moscow’s notoriously homophobic mayor, a counter-parade of mainstream Nazis and their Christofascist chums wasn’t.
Tatchell has posted a bulletin to UK supporters, which I’ve just picked up on via the PTT Blog (see sidebar), in which he says:

"Between 35 and 40 Russian LGBT activists have been arrested, including British human rights activist Peter Tatchell and Chicago LGBT activist Andy Thayer. Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev was held down by 5 fully armed riot police and arrested.
European Embassy diplomats who witnessed the violence are said to be planning a joint diplomatic action.
Slavic Pride organisers have called on the artists and performers of Eurovision to boycott tonight’s showpiece event in solidarity with the beaten and arrested protesters.”

As mentioned by Tatchell, one of those arrested has been the energetic and inspiring gay Russian activist Nikolai Alekseev, who said:

“I call upon all of the artists who are due to perform at tonight’s Eurovision to boycott tonight’s event and send a message that Russia’s state oppression of human rights is not acceptable.
The Russian Government is using this years Eurovision in Moscow as a gala showpiece to show the world how far the country has improved since the early 1990’s. However, what was witnessed this afternoon on the streets of Moscow shows the world just how little Russia has travelled when it comes to supporting fundamental human rights.
The police brutality that we witnessed here this afternoon is shocking. We planned a peaceful march to highlight the dire state of LGBT rights in Russia today. The police, given violent legitimacy by the openly homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, did not hold back with their weapons, despite the world’s media watching.
We were defending the often violated human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians. We demand the same legal protection against discrimination and hate crimes that none LGBT people enjoy.
This episode has shamed the Russian Government and Moscow authorities before the world.”

Mike Foxwell, editor of the online Gay & Lesbian Humanist has also contacted Eurovision organisers suggesting that at such a gay-friendly event and with a European audience of countless millions they simply have to make a protest. PTT seem to be posting updates as they can get them for those surfing the web throughout the day.
I tell you what. Let’s see if Norton and the Eurovision crowd do what’s right by a significant number of their audience. And if they don’t, let’s protest ourselves, via any media we can, about fair weather campers who go all M & S instead when it matters.

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