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Moscow Homophobia a "Litmus Test" for Broader Ultranationalism

The NYT today reports on the anti-gay patrols that recently began around the chapel in Moscow's Ilyinsky Park that I posted about back in mid-June. The chapel and the park around it have a reputation as gay meeting places.

PlevnaThe paper talks to Igor S. Kon, a Russian sociologist, who says that the patrols, whose activities have expanded in recent weeks to being ethnic minorities under their hateful umbrella, are a "litmus test" for a broader ultranationist trend in Russia.

They report: "To the patrol’s supporters, the gay men who frequent the park are the aggressors. 'The sexual minorities have occupied territory,' said Larisa O. Pavlova, a member of a local parents’ association. She suggested that the area around the monument had become a site not only for gay cruising, but also for prostitution and drug dealing. 'The place where our kids used to stroll is now home to all kinds of vulgar acts,' she said. The Orthodox youth group has disavowed using force to remove gay men from the park, and claims to be the victim of several violent attacks near the monument. In one incident, someone fired on the patrol group with an air gun, hitting a person in the neck, several witnesses said. Though the police refused to comment, several members of the patrol accused gay people of organizing an intimidation campaign. Whatever the truth of the accusations, more outspoken groups have set up an unofficial protection service for the Georgiyevtsy, and on most nights, young men with shaved heads and army boots now greatly outnumber the patrol’s founders. As their movement grows, so does the specter of more violence."

It's certainly a ticking time bomb, one which Moscow authorities don't appear to have any interest in defusing.

A Clash of Cultures at a Square in Moscow [nyt]

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  1. Russian neo-Nazis? Don't these people know anything about history? Hitler and the Nazis considered Russians, and Slavs in general, as sub-humans. They had no place along the "Master Race" except as slaves or concentration camp prisoners.

    Has anyone read about the murder of small child by Russian "ultra-nationalists" who found her skin repulses?

    Posted by: noah | Jul 11, 2007 8:36:53 AM

  2. While undoubtedly there is some probablity of an element of homo-persecution, I do not wholly disagree with these patrols. While my knowledge on the matter is limited to what I have read here on towleroad, I will say that I would not want to live near or have children near a park where any rampant sex is said to be occurring; be it homosexual, heterosexual, or god-knows-what-sexual. That kind of unchecked behavior would certainly bring in more dangerous activity into the area because dealers and pimps and prositutes and crackheads would know that this area is not being monitored by authorities. Of course I understand the signifigance that parks have played, I am aware that parks have historically been a place of meeting under the shroud of darkness for those who do not have another venue to explore their homosexuality and they have largely been ignored by police...that is until the crowd becomes too large and civil disorder becomes evident. That would happen in the US or anywhere. Maybe I am wrong but I'm just not seeing it as a threat to homosexual tolerance.

    Posted by: Chris | Jul 11, 2007 3:13:37 PM

  3. Kon is right, and I'm happy to see he put this spin on it (I gave the NYT reporter his contact info).

    While this park/square is a cruising area late at night, during daylight hours it's more a social gathering place, so all the talk about children is just propaganda. People are not having sex there. It's close to Red Square and the end of Tverskaya, hardly a residential area, which is probably why it was chosen as the gay center. The website and videos of the Georgievtsy and related groups show that they are a cross between our Focus on the Family and neo-nazis, and some similar youth groups are sponsored by Putin's party.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jul 12, 2007 11:04:58 AM

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