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Judge bans Winter Olympics gay Pride House

Russian court rules that Pride House at 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics is ‘extremist’ and could provoke ‘social-religious hatred’
Russian president Vladimir Putin addressing the International Olympic Committee to win the Winter Olympics for Sochi.
Photo by Presidential Press and Information Office.

A judge in Russia has backed the ban imposed by the authorities on organising a ‘gay Pride House’ for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Plans for the Pride House were formulated by Russian gay activists following the 2010 Games in Vancouver, which featured a very successful Pride House.

But the dreams of repeating the success of Vancouver were scuppered last year when the Russian Ministry of Justice refused the registration of the NGO set-up to organize Pride House.

This week, a court backed the decision of the Ministry of Justice official in Krasnodar.

‘The aims of the organization contradict the basics of public morality and the policy of the state in the area of family motherhood and childhood protection,’ said Svetlana Mordovina in her ruling.

The judge continued: ‘The activities of the [Pride House] movement leads to propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation which can undermine the security of the Russian society and the state, provoke social-religious hatred, which is the feature of the extremist character of the activity.

‘Moreover it can undermine the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation due to the decrease of Russia’s population.

‘Such aims as creating an understanding of the necessity to fight against homophobia and the creation of positive attitudes towards LGBT sportsmen contradicts with the basics of public morality because they are directed towards the increase of the number of citizens of sexual minorities which breaches the understanding of good and evil, good and bad, vice and virtue,’ Mordovina concluded.

Commenting on the court’s decision, Nikolai Alekseev, one of the applicants from GayRussia, told Gay Star News that the organisers were not going to let the matter rest.

‘We still aim to host a series of actions during the Olympics, and we are in contact with the International Olympic Committee. Hopefully, a solution can be reached,’ he said.

‘Our movement has been extremely active in the last years in Russia and this rendezvous [in Sochi] is a good occasion to share with others.

‘What is still unclear for me following the ruling from the court is whether openly LGBT athletes will be allowed to compete in Sochi and if they are, if their safety will be guaranteed.’

Then Alekseev joked: ‘The judge forgot to add that Pride House in Sochi will lead to the melting of Arctic ice, global warming and the end of mankind.’

This is not the first time the registration of an LGBT non-governmental organization in Russia has been denied by the authorities.

But the case is being seen as highly symbolic due to its direct connection with the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which the Russian government hopes will help to increase the country’s reputation worldwide.

Pride House was first featured during the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. And the Summer Olympics in London later this year is to have a Pride House too.

Chad Molleken, executive director of Pride House London, said: ‘What is happening in Russia today makes it that much more important for everyone to get behind the Pride House London project now.

‘As one of the most diverse and tolerant cities in the world, London has the opportunity to permanently establish Pride House as a part of the Olympic movement and line up of national houses. Through the Pride House Foundation we hope to raise enough funds to support LGBT athletes and organisations like Pride House Russia to promote diversity and inclusion on a global scale.’

Alekseev told Gay Star News this morning that Pride House Sochi was planned to be ‘a meeting place for sportsman and their supporters, and will be freely accessible to the public’.

He added that a series of seminars as well as a photo exhibition and, possibly a sports competition, had been planned.

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