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Moldovan Police Stand Accused of Letting Protestors Highjack Bus Carrying Gay Pride Participants




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■ Inside the bus carrying  intending participants of Chisinau 'Gay Pride' march.
photo courtesy GenderDoc-M/ILGA-Europe

 CHISINAU, May 11, 2008  –    A ruling of the Moldovan Supreme Court and the provisions of the European Human Rights Convention, which Moldova signed, were set aside by Chisinau police who stood to one side and let extremist religious groups, members of the neo-fascist movement, “New Right”, and legionnaires prevent today’s “Gay Pride” from going ahead.

Large, aggressive and well-coordinated groups blocked the bus carrying Gay Pride participants.  They then forced open the door the door of the bus before violently trying to break the windows.

According to Pride organisers at GenderDoc-M, the protestors even tried to tamper with the engine.

As the thugs were physically attacking the bus, they hurled abuse at those inside.

“Lets get them out and beat them up,” they yelled.

And all the time, the police stood by watching the attack as “passive observers”.

GenderDoc-M, the country’s LGBT non-governmental organisation, has informed local authorities and the Ministry of Internal Affairs as early as April 21 about the route of the march, and requested for protection.

The law on freedom of assembly of Moldova guarantees peaceful assembly to everyone, and puts an obligation on the police to guarantee the exercise of the right and the safety of participants.

“The police did not facilitate the exit of pride participants from the bus into the street, did not prevent the rival aggressive groups from intervention, and through their passivity encouraged escalation of violence and the build up of the all-permissive hostile atmosphere,” GenderDoc-M said in a statement this afternoon.

Independent human rights observers witnessed hatred shouts, such as “Beat them to death” and “Don’t let them escape”.

Some 60 Gay Pride participants were stuck in the bus for over 45 minutes.

■ An angry group of 'thugs' highjack the bus.
photo courtesy GenderDoc-M/ILGA-Europe

Two unidentified well-built men wearing the signs of the rival groups, forced the doors from both sides of the bus and demanded the destruction 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 blockade of the bus.

According to the estimates of independent observers some 200 to 400 people had surrounded the bus.

The core of the crowd were teenagers, some dressed military-style, some wearing black masks and others skinhead-like carrying A4 posters with derogatory homophobic messages and signs.

The outer ring of the crowd was mostly middle-aged men wearing black clothes encouraging the youths.

Observers have said that they did not see any uniformed police at the location of what amounted to the ‘hijack’ of the bus by the thugs.

However, some six traffic police cars were seen parked approximately 100 meters away.

The occupants of the police cars could not have failed to see what was going on, UK Gay News was told.

But no attempts were made by the police to disperse the angry crowd.

GenderDoc-M said that they made nine attempts to call the police, but the pleas were set aside.

After destroying of all materials as demanded by the thugs, two men ordered the ending of the ‘siege’ and the bus headed to the GenderDoc-M office, followed by a car with members of the crowd.

Gay Pride participants then dispersed in small groups, but ‘on alert’ for possible repeated attack by the angry crowd.

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

■ A masked skinhead tries to enter the GenderDoc-M offices.
photo courtesy GenderDoc-M/ILGA-Europe

In parallel to these events, there were reports that 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”.

GenderDoc-M has no information whether these groups in the square had their protests authorised.

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

The new Moldovan Law on Assembly requires a simple notification of local authorities about a meeting.  GenderDoc-M submitted to the City Hall on April 21 in accordance with the law.

“On the eve of the march, the Mayor of Chisinau Dorin Chirtoaca issued a ‘disposition’ informing the organisers that the march was banned by the City Hall,” GenderDoc-M said in a statement.

“Such a disposition breaches the law, since only the court could ban the parade.

“Since the new Mayor, an advocate of the Liberal Party and former staff of a human rights NGO in Moldova, took office, GenderDoc-M remains the only organisation whose public gatherings have been banned,” the statement continued.

“Since May 2005, eight public meetings arranged by GenderDoc-M have been banned.  Absence of action by police amounts to grave violations of the right to freedom of assembly and put in danger the personal security of all march participants.

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.

GenderDoc-M also calls on the European Union, Council of Europe, OSCE and human rights NGOs to raise these human rights violations at the highest level with Moldovan authorities, and to put pressure on Moldovan government to implement its own laws without discrimination and its international human rights commitments.

“Moldovan authorities must be held responsible for their behaviour,” the statement concluded.

UK Gay News has attempted to get a statement from the Moldovan police in Chisinau.

Despite language difficulties, a police spokesman said that the “gay manifestation had been banned by the city authorities”.

But when asked about last year’s Moldovan Supreme Court decision and the law saying that the police must protect the right to freedom of assembly – and the safety of those taking part, his English suddenly became non-existent.


ILGA-Europe Condemns Moldova Over Gay Pride Fiasco at Weekend.  The lack of any action by Moldovan police to protect participants in last weekend’s Gay Pride in the country’s capital Chisinau – and the illegal banning of the parade by the mayor – was condemned today by the International Lesbian and Gay Association Europe.  (UK Gay News, May 13, 2008)

Chisinau Mayor Bans Gay Pride on Eve of Parade.  Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca has banned the Gay Pride parade in the Moldovan capital.  The parade, part of “Rainbow over the Dniester” is scheduled to take place on Sunday (May 11).  (UK Gay News, May 9, 2008)

Chisinau Authorities OK Gay Pride Parade for First Time.  Organisers of the Gay Pride in Moldova – “Rainbow over the Dniester” – are hopeful of being able to stage a parade this year in the country’s capital, Chisinau.  (UK Gay News, May 6, 2008)

Victory Claimed by Gays in Moldova at Chisinau ‘Pride’.  Organisers of the Moldova ‘Gay Pride’ – Rainbow over the Dniester – have claimed a victory over the Chisinau city authorities. (UK Gay News, May 3, 2007)


  GenderDoc-M website (English)

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Posted: 11 May 2008 at 19:00 (UK time)
Updated at 19:30 and 20:00



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