Russia gays to take mayor to court over "queer" jibe

Wed Jun 3, 2009 8:38am EDT
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By James Kilner

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gay rights activists in Moscow plan to take the city's rampantly homophobic mayor to court for insulting their dignity during an interview in which he said "queers" undermined a morally healthy society.

A Moscow court rejected a previous case made by gay rights campaigners against 72-year-old mayor Yuri Luzhkov in 2007 after he described their marches as "satanic" and banned one.

Prominent gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev said on Wednesday that lawyers would present a new case against Luzhkov to a Moscow court this week and later to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"Nobody in Russia can win against the authorities. This is about raising awareness," he told Reuters by telephone.

Besides banning several gay parades in Moscow, Luzhkov has also blamed homosexuals for the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The issue of gay rights in Russia heated up in May, which saw the rejection of a lesbian couple's attempt to apply for a marriage license and the banning of a gay rights march to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Moscow for the first time.

Police detained around 80 people, including Alexeyev, who tried to hold the march anyway.

Luzhkov's latest comments, urging Alexeyev and other activists to take him to court, were broadcast on Tuesday by a state-run television program.   Continued...