MOSCOW, (Pyotr Romanov, RIA Novosti political commentator)
An unsanctioned Gay Pride parade was dispersed in central Moscow a few days ago. The entire European homosexual community watched the developments closely, as did the Council of Europe, the European Human Rights Commissioner, and parliamentarians-two French and two German Parliament members, who had come to Moscow to support the marchers and were detained by the police.
The day for the parade was chosen to coincide with the start of Russia's Council of Europe presidency. There are people in Western political circles who are as outraged by this as they are by Russia's G8 presidency and the upcoming summit in St. Petersburg.
Gay rights activists proceed from the trends and rules of conduct that dominate in present-day Europe, and they demand that Russia follows the same rules. They totally ignore the Russian public mentality and the very short time that has passed since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. Another important factor is Russia's severe demographic crisis. Same-sex couples are the last thing Russia needs, with its plummeting birth rates.
Opinions clash on whether the police had to be so tough on the marchers. But then, the police had their excuse. The flowers gays were to lay to the Unknown Soldier's Tomb at the Kremlin wall, one of Russia's most precious shrines, looked to some people as a deliberate provocation. Gay Pride organizers knew what they were doing-they meant the police to look as shocking as possible in television reports, and the cops swallowed the bait. Again, for an umptieth time, they failed to oppose a provocation with the professionalism expected of them.
Be all that as it may, an unbiased person will hardly allege any harsh reprisals against sexual minorities in today's Russia. There are numerous gay clubs, and gays work on television and in the show business. There are homosexuals among State Duma members, and several political parties offer sexual minorities their support.
The majority of the Russians, however, still have a negative attitude toward gays. Russians are getting back to church, from which Bolsheviks violently kicked them in their time. As they regain faith and open the Scripture, Russians cannot miss its references to Sodom and Gomorrah, in which they do not differ from religious people all over Europe. The Russian Orthodox Church is not the only one to denounce homosexuality-in this it is joined by the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations.
As the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner thinks, religious believers can sometimes be wrong, so all flowers ought to bloom on earth, homosexuality included. Same-sex couples must be allowed to get married and adopt children.
The Commissioner and other defenders of sexual minorities are not unlike Bolsheviks in their invincible belief that the truth is on their side. Blinded by their convictions, Bolsheviks made sure everyone lived according to their laws and doctrine. Now, Europeans are just as sure that homosexuality is not a sin but every citizen's legal right. Why this steadfast assurance? Has any of the advocates of same-sex love ever come back from the dead with thorough knowledge of the other world's ways and judgments? Just why are they so sure that tolerance revitalizes and not corrupts the community?
There are no answers to these questions. A religious person also cannot say how he knows his convictions are right-he just feels that way, the same as his opponents do. Neither side has any firm proof of its point, so why should Russia follow the Council of Europe on this issue? Why is it to believe the Human Rights Commissioner and not the Pope or the Patriarch of All Russia?
The Council of Europe is determined to have its will at all costs. Russians cannot sympathize with its Bolshevist determination after the nation was driven for several decades along the road considered to be the only right way. That road led Russia to the brink of an abyss, as we all know. Can we be sure the road charted by the Council of Europe will not bring us, another several decades later, to rename Moscow Sodom and St. Petersburg Gomorrah?
We Russians have had enough guidance. We want to choose our own road independently. After all, that choice is what democracy is all about.
We are willing to enter into discussion if the Council of Europe sees the matter differently-but only without moralizing. After all, Europe's present-day morals are too lax to do any moralizing.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the editorial board.