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Three gay activists jailed after Moscow rally

Gay and LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev (R) holds a flare as he rides a quad-bike during an unauthorized gay rights activists rally in central Moscow on May 30, 2015. Moscow city authorities turned down demands for a gay rights rally. AFP PHOTO/DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Gay and LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev (R) holds a flare as he rides a quad-bike during an unauthorized gay rights activists rally in central Moscow on May 30, 2015. Moscow city authorities turned down demands for a gay rights rally. (Dmitry Serebryakov/AFP/Getty Images)

The organiser of an unauthorised gay pride rally in Moscow was jailed for 10 days on Monday along with two other activists for disobeying police.

The event’s main organiser, Nikolai Alexeyev, was jailed after being detained by police at Saturday’s brief protest outside the Moscow mayor’s office.

“The court hearing was a farce!” he wrote on Twitter.

Two other activists, Yevgeny Gerasimov and Vadim Gruzdev were also sentenced to 10 days in police cells, reported OVD-Info website, which monitors detentions  of activists.

On Saturday Alexeyev rode past  the mayor’s office on the main Tverskaya Street on a quad bike decked with a rainbow flag and waving an orange smoke flare. The mayor’s office had refused permission for a rally and a court rejected activists’ appeal.

Police detained around a dozen people at the rally after some 30 nationalist counter-demonstrators in camouflage clothing and football fans hurled eggs at the activists and attacked them.

Gays in Russia face regular harassment and requests to hold pride parades have been consistently rejected by authorities in the capital.

In  2013, President Vladimir Putin approved legislation banning the dissemination of “gay propaganda” among minors.

The law has been widely condemned in the West as stoking intolerance.

Human Rights Watch last December sounded the alarm over a rising number of homophobic attacks in Russia, saying that the ban on “gay propaganda” effectively legalised discrimination.

Police officers detain gay rights activists as they gathered near the State Duma, Russia's lower parliament chamber, in Moscow, Russia, on June 11, 2013.  AP PHOTO/IVAN SEKRETAREV

Police officers detain gay rights activists as they gathered near the State Duma, Russia’s lower parliament chamber, in Moscow, Russia, on June 11, 2013. AP PHOTO/IVAN SEKRETAREV

Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, and only stopped classifying it as a mental illness in 1999.

Russian police detain 17!

Russian police detain 17 activists

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian police detained 17 protesters on Sunday as they gathered in central Moscow to release colourful balloons into the air to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, an organiser of the failed flashmob said.

Some 50 people assembled on a square outside a Moscow theatre but crowd control police drove up a bus and started shoving the protesters inside before they managed to unfurl any banners or chant any slogans.

One of the organisers, Andrei Obolensky, said later that he and others were still detained at a police station, and only one of them had so far been released.

The LGBT community has come under increased pressure in Russia as President Vladimir Putin has charted a more conservative course since starting his third term in 2012.

A 2013 law against gay “propaganda” sparked an outcry among Russian rights activists and in the West. But partly reflecting the influence of the Orthodox church, many Russians back the law or have negative feelings towards gays.

A similar event took place undisturbed in Russia’s second city of St Petersburg on Sunday, with activists waving rainbow flags and releasing scores of balloons while police looked on.

“It’s tough, members of the LGBT community face lots of discrimination in their lives, at work, at school… people are faced with violence in the streets,” said protester Nika Yuryeva.

(Reporting by Genna Novik and Alexander Chizhenok, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Northern Ireland gay activists fight bill which could allow gay discrimination

The proposed ‘conscience clause’ would allow people to refuse goods or services to LGBTI people on the grounds of strongly-held religious beliefs
The proposed ‘conscience clause’ would allow people to refuse goods or services to LGBTI people on the grounds of strongly-held religious beliefs

Image via Facebook/The-Rainbow-Project

LGBTI activists are rallying against a new bill proposal which they fear could legitimise anti-gay discrimination in Northern Ireland.

The proposed ‘conscience clause’ is a measure which could allow people to refuse goods or services to gay and lesbian people on the ground of their strongly-held religious beliefs.

An example of this would be the Belfast bakery which refused to bake a gay Bert and Ernie cake. Activists fear if the proposed ‘conscience clause’ was made law, then it would legitimise discriminatory behaviour such as this.

The Private Members’ Bill has been proposed by Paul Givan, a Democratic Unionist Party member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and has been backed by party leader and First Minister, Peter Robinson.

John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project which is a pro-LGBT rights group based in Northern Ireland, hit out against the bill.

‘Mr Givan claims that his bill will allow believers to deny goods and services to LGB people when it ‘promotes or facilitates same sex relations’. Let us explain to Mr Givan what this means,’ said O’Doherty.

‘Restaurants could deny same sex couples a table as this could be facilitating same sex relations. A mortgage provider could deny a mortgage to a same sex couple as it would be facilitating same-sex relations. Hoteliers could deny a room to a same sex couple as it would be facilitating same-sex relations.

‘The examples are countless. Mr Givan clearly has not considered the implications of his license to discriminate legislation. Ensuring LGB people can access goods and services without discrimination is good for business, good for the economy and good for Northern Ireland’s reputation with investors.’

In addition to the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International has also criticized the proposal.

‘What is proposed is not a conscience clause, it is a discrimination clause,’ said Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director.

‘This is not about freedom of religion; this is about treating a section of our population as second-class citizens.

‘This change to the law is not welcome and it is not needed. The law already strikes a fair balance between the human right to freedom of religion and the human right not to suffer discrimination.

‘Northern Ireland’s First Minister should concentrate on eradicating inequalities already faced by members of the LGBTI community here, rather than lending his support to a discriminatory new law.

‘He could start by publishing Stormont’s long overdue sexual orientation strategy, which could help tackle homophobia in Northern Ireland society.’

#NoConscienceClause has already begun trending on social media, facilitated by The Rainbow Project.

Today at 3pm (31 January), there is a planned protest against the bill at Belfast City Hall. There will also be partner protests in Derry-Londonderry and Newry.

Stephen Fry has signed a petition arguing for the dismissal of the bill.

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/northern-ireland-gay-activists-fight-bill-which-could-allow-gay-discrimination310115#sthash.MAMacSvl.dpuf