Ladypolitik (ladypolitik) wrote in ontd_political,
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ladypolitik
ontd_political

PRIDE PotD: June 29, 2010.



Picspam Installment V of international Pride events:

Lithuania | Romania | Belarus | Russia | Bulgaria

Baltic Pride - Vilnius, Lithuania (May 8, 2010)

This year Baltic Pride was held in Vilnius, Lithuania, making it the country’s very first Pride march.  There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the event.  As it was the country’s very first pride march, no one really knew what to expect.  In addition, much political maneuvering went on to try and get the march cancelled with the courts lifting its suspension only a day before the Saturday march.



This year Baltic Pride was held in Vilnius, Lithuania, making it the country’s very first Pride march.  There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the event.  As it was the country’s very first pride march, no one really knew what to expect.  In addition, much political maneuvering went on to try and get the march cancelled with the courts lifting its suspension only a day before the Saturday march. Lithuanian Police protecting Baltic Pride  However, this pride had a lot of support from the EU, with many VIPs in attendance, and backing from large organizations like Amnesty and ILGA-Europe.  This pressure for the march to run smoothly encouraged the government to provide approximately 800 policemen to secure the safety of the event.



The morning of the event, a prayer service was held asking God not to let the Pride march happen.



While 350 participants took place in the Baltic Pride Equality March, thousands of people gathered to watch, and some to show their displeasure.  The Neris river acted as a barrier on one side, while police secured the perimeters from protestors.  Many of the protestors on the South side of the river, spent the whole day just sitting on the bank staring across the river.



Among the agitators was a small group of Nazis, yelling homophobic slogans.  Even though it is against the law to fly the swastika in Lithuania, the police would not remove the flag as the symbol had minor changes from the original.






An anti-gay activist shouts during the Baltic Pride march in Vilnius May 8, 2010.  

Ints Kalnins



Despite the protesters, the event ran smoothly, much to the relief of all those involved.  The final message was that next year another Baltic Pride would be held, this one in Estonia.





















A reveler waves a flag during the Baltic  Pride march in Vilnius May 8, 2010.
Ints Kalnins.























GayFest - Bucharest, Romania (May 22, 2010)

A young woman holds up the Rainbow Flag at the height of GayFest.  The building behind her is Romania’s famous Parliament Palace located in downtown Bucharest.  I can’t help but feel that her pose is such a symbolic stance of freedom that the LGBT community in Romania is just really beginning to enjoy.



After Minsk, I felt strange photographing the party atmosphere of GayFest.  I think it’s great that this can happen in Romania,  and I know that the road here hasn’t been easy.  But my thoughts were still with Sergey and everyone back in Belarus.



Unfortunately, there was a “Nationalistic” march just hours before the Pride.  While this group was very vocal, they were not violent.  However, in previous years, arrests were made due to protestors carrying knives, smoke bombs, rocks, and other weapons.  Out of all the LGBT groups I have spoken to, not one has said they would deny them the right to march, and the freedom of speech.






A “Family Values” march took place the day before the Pride.  With Gay Adoption Rights a huge concern for the LGBT community, it brings to question just what values are these traditional families teaching?  I saw children no older than 10 carrying signs condemning homosexuals.  Hatred and intolerance…nice values.









It is always very helpful to have VIPs attend a Pride.  If the government is under pressure to protect important guests things are usually much safer for everyone involved.  In Bucharest, the gay Rev. Diane Fischer gave a great speech on how God loves everyone, and the British Consulate made their support and presence well known.



But despite the VIPs and all of the police protection the march took place along empty streets in almost complete isolation from the general public.  It was only in a small park along the very last stretch of the march that a handful of on-lookers gathered and viewed the march from at least 200 meters away.  This was in complete contrast to the “Family Values” and “Nationalistic” marches that took place earlier, which made their way through some of the busiest streets in Bucharest.








Slavic Pride – Minsk, Belarus (May 15, 2010)

Here Sergey receives a phone call from a printer who has refused to print the first edition of Minsk’s only LGBT magazine, due to a cartoon satire of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

It was with a bit of sad irony that Sergey Yenin would choose Independence Square to meet me. The 20 year old LGBT activist who now lives in Warsaw has returned once again to Minsk with the task to help organize and lead this year’s Slavic Pride. His goal isn’t an easy one. Officially banned by the Belarusian government, Slavic Pride is illegal, making those that plan to break the government’s ban criminals. But being arrested isn’t the worse scenario the LGBT community can think of. Belarus is still rife with homophobia and several death threats have been received in recent days. Having attended the Prides in Moscow, Sergey knows how bad things can get.  He is exhausted, he is frustrated, he is scared, he is determined.



Sergey sits with a cup of tea just hours before he would be arrested for breaking the ban on Slavic Pride.



The long hours and sleepless nights start to set in.  Participants met in several locations, from small parks to cafes.  We moved quickly, ignoring other participants we would see on the street to avoid forming a large group.  Text messages received from cell phones with warnings that skinheads had been tipped to our locations kept us on the move.  Here in a park on the outskirts of town, the members of Gay Belarus and Gay Russia meet to discuss the final location of the Pride.  The problem is that both the police and skinheads were trying to find where the Pride would take place, forcing the organizers to choose alternative spots for the march.  Another problem was that the media, which the group needed both for publicity and security, were being confined by the police.



Frustrated, Nikolai Alekseev, whom I consider to be one of the great Civil Rights leaders of our time, takes a moment alone to collect his thoughts.  He is a man with a lot of weight on his shoulders.  His goal is not only to have a successful Pride, which makes a very public statement, but the safety of everyone involved.  Nikolai is the head of Gay Russia, and has organized the Prides in Moscow, which are some of the most violently protested Prides in the world.  If anyone knows how quickly bad things can get it’s him.



Between 30 to 40 skinheads blocked the entrance of the Crowne Plaza Hotel today in Minsk in an attempt to stop the viewing of the documentary movie “Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride,” and the official start of Slavic Pride. Police showed up on the scene and the group disbanded about an hour later. During the viewing a bomb threat was called into the hotel, and the participants were moved to another floor.









At last, the Pride goes on and the Rainbow Flag is marched down the street.  Participants shout slogans denouncing homophobia and Minsk has its first Pride in history.















The Pride lasted around 10 minutes before anti-riot police stormed the area.  Between 10-15 participants were arrested.  Sergey is detained for 3 days.  Upon his release he sent me this email:  “I was released today in the afternoon. Now I’m kinda safe and sound, but i’m covered with bruises and bleeding deep scratches all over. the policemen used to beat and mock at me. I spent 2 days in an isolator for administrative criminals. I can’t recall this time without tears in my eyes…”



Policemen detain a gay rights activist during an unsanctioned Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Pride Parade in the capital Minsk May 15, 2010. 

REUTERS | Vladimir Nikolsky






This participant ran from the police as I chased about a half block behind.  For no reason, after the participant had already been detained, the police officer gave him a huge sweeping kick knocking him to the ground.  There would of been more, but I quickly started photographing.






A mother of one of the participants, who was brave enough to join the Pride and support her son, is obviously upset after police arrest him for giving an interview to local media.



A gay rights activist sits in a police car after being detained during an unsanctioned Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Pride Parade in the capital Minsk May 15, 2010.

REUTERS | Vasily Fedosenko






A skinhead with a carton of eggs stares me down.   Alone, he wasn’t brave enough to throw an egg with me closely watching him.  The other members of the media pictured here gave him slaps on the back and shook his hand after he had made a brief hate speech.  Earlier in the day, I had been kicked by a local reporter, and  it was also reported that a local camera man had thrown eggs himself.  The camera man in brown with the black baseball hat is with Gay Russia, and of course does not hold the other journalists’ views. Update: This man is actually a “journalist” from Minsk.  He says he doesn’t mind homosexuals as long as they stay in their homes and clubs!



Friends of those detained gather outside the detention center on a rainy afternoon.  They were unable to bring food, drink, or warm clothes to those inside.



After the march a celebration party was held at the only gay club in the city.  Minsk had held it’s first Pride in history.  Extra police were sent to protect the club and no trouble occurred.  The feeling inside was mainly concern for those friends still detained.



Moscow Pride - Russia (May 19, 2010)

Despite breaking Russia’s Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, Moscow’s Mayor, Yury Luzkov, has for the last 5 years banned any form of gay prides. However, a small community of LGBT activists lead by Nikolai Alekseev have held illegal Prides since 2006.  They have been met with violent protests from right-wing extremists and police brutality.  Nikolai has lead the movement both in the streets and in the courtrooms.

Here waiting on a court appearance Nikolai Alekseev, and Alexey Golitsin wait outside a courtroom while the lawyer for the prefecture contemplates life.



Despite years of violent protests by both skinhead groups and police, this year’s Pride avoided any beatings or arrests. A bit less intimidating, this woman asked my friend Vlad what was going on in the courthouse. She admitted to being against homosexuality and tried to lecture him on morality.  He spent the next 40 minutes talking to her about his life.



The press conference held at The Holiday Inn was a huge success. This year’s Pride received an incredible amount of positive attention from the major news sources in Russia, and the big international news agencies.



LGBT activist, Anna Komarova prepares her protest sign in the living room of the rented flat.  [Below], another young protester grabs some much needed sleep under a sign that reads “Rights to Gays.












Maria Yefremenkova, who runs Gay Russia in St. Petersburg, has a quiet moment just before we leave for the Pride.



In defiance of the city’s ban, a 20 meter Rainbow Flag was taken out and marched for 600 meters down a main city street while anti-homophobic slogans were chanted by the 30-40 participants.



Volker Beck, a German member of the EU Parliament, is the only politician who has supported Moscow Pride since day one. He has a long and distinguished career working for Human Rights.  In 2006, Volker was badly beaten by a right-wing extremist protester. The man responsible is known and has even gloated to media about his actions. The Russian government has yet to take any actions against the extremist.






Then just as quickly as it started, the flag was rolled up and everyone bolted in different directions. I followed a group of friends to a small bus and we were driven away to safety.



The flag is rolled up and put away for safekeeping. Lots of cheers, lots of laughs, lots of hugs.



Exhausted, many of the participants headed back to safe houses, celebrated, and then went to sleep.









Later that night everyone met up for a celebration. For the first time in history, Moscow Pride happened without any violence or arrests. Sitting on the floor is Russian cameraman Vladimir Ivanov, who has documented Gay Russia since the beginning.



When you go through something like this you get close to the people around you very quickly.  They are an incredible group of people fighting the good fight.



Sofia Pride - Bulgaria (June 26, 2010)






















People participate in the third Sofia Pride annual parade in Sofia June 26, 2010. Hundreds of gays, lesbians, transsexuals and supporters of gay rights participated in the parade.  

REUTERS | Stoyan Nenov






Anti-gay activists participate in a march against the Sofia Pride 2010 parade in Sofia June 26, 2010. The third annual parade will take place later on Saturday.

REUTERS | Stoyan Nenov












An activist waves a flag during the third Sofia Pride annual parade in Sofia June 26, 2010. Hundreds of gays, lesbians, transsexuals and supporters of gay rights participated in the parade.

REUTERS | Stoyan Nenov



Two men kiss during the third Sofia Pride annual parade in Sofia June 26, 2010. Hundreds of gays, lesbians, transsexuals and supporters of gay rights participated in the parade.  

REUTERS | Stoyan Nenov




Next Pride photo-spam: Australia, Ireland, France.


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