Sunday, May 11, 2008

(A bus carrying gay pride participants in Chisinau, Moldova, surrounded by a hostile crowd.)

(Gay leaders, wearing rainbow ribbons, talk to the press.)

Moldovan Gay Pride Threatened,
Cops Refuse Protection for Marchers

Gay activists in Moldova sent out an alert over the weekend about their aborted attempt at staging a gay pride event in the capitol of Chisinau, some of which is excerpted below.

It always displeases me when such reports reach us here in the U.S., where gay parades are pretty common and non-violent, because I want my brothers and sisters abroad to enjoy the freedom of being out of the closet, saying so on the streets, and not be threatened or their personal security put at risk because of their openness. Let's take comfort knowing no one was injured, made bloody or sent to the hospital at Moldova's canceled pride action.

The silver lining I see in this dark cloud over eastern Europe is that Moldovan gays have been attempting to stage gay pride marches for a number of years, they've got a beautiful web site, with lots of information in English, they're keeping the world up to date on their activities with news releases, and also posting photos from the weekend's scary manifestation on the web.

If it's any consolation to the Moldovan gay community, I hope they find some comfort, maybe even inspiration, knowing gays in America are blogging about them and send a message of solidarity for their important struggles.

From the Gay Moldovan group's web site:

Today participants in the 7th Moldovan Pride were precluded from marching peacefully in support of anti-discrimination legislation and tolerance in the centre of Chisinau. Police did not guarantee the right to freedom of assembly. Large aggressive coordinated groups, including extremist religious groups, members of the neo-fascist movement “New Right”, and legionnaires blocked the bus with participants, forced the door, violently hit the windows, and attempted to remove the engine, while shouting “lets get them out and beat them up” . . .

The police did not facilitate the exit of pride participants from the bus into the street, did not side out the rival aggressive groups from intervention, and through their passivity encouraged escalation of violence and the built up of the all-permissive hostile atmosphere. Independent human rights observers witnessed hatred shouts, such as “Beat them to death”, “Don’t let them escape”. No medical emergency was foreseen.

About 60 people were blocked in the bus for over 45 minutes. Two unidentified well-built men wearing the signs of the rival groups, forced the doors from both sides of the bus and demanded ceasing of all march materials (banners asking for anti-discrimination law and tolerance, European Union and Moldovan flags and rainbow balloons) as condition for lifting the blockage of the bus. According to the estimates of independent observers from 200 to 400 people had surrounded the bus . . .

No police was identified by the observes on the place. Some 6 traffic police cars stood approximately 100 meters away without taking any action whatsoever. GenderDoc-M has made 9 unsuccessful attempts to call the police . . .

Another crowd of approximately several hundred people surrounded GenderDoc-M office demanding that pride participants exit the office. Two police and one ambulance cars observed from distance the events. The office remained blocked for several hours.

In parallel to the events described above, several hundred people of all ages, men and women gathered on the Great National Assembly Square, carrying banners saying “Family is the Union between Man and Woman”, “Homosexuality is a Sin”, “Immorality Ruins Society”, “Moldova – Christian Country”, and “Do Not Turn Sin into Virtue”.

All remaining activities, including a small meeting, sightseeing in Chisinau and visit of historic places in Moldova were cancelled due to lack of security . . .

GenderDoc-M calls on Moldovan authorities to guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly and expression to everyone. We also call on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to fulfil their lawful responsibilities and ensure exercise of the right to freedom of assembly and safety of those taking part in public manifestations . . .

(A Spanish map, the best I could find, showing Moldova in relation to its larger neighbors.)

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