Perhaps I have been too harsh on Andrew Sullivan lately. While I have faulted him for appearing to join the angry left in criticizing the president’s every move, he distinguished himself yesterday by taking issue with Russian authorities for caving it to a “mainstream Muslim” leader who threatened to bash marchers “if they dared to walk the streets” as part of a gay pride parade. Moscow authorities will not allow the parade to proceed. (Via Volokh via Instapundit.)
Just over a week ago, I noted how, ever eager to fault the Bush Administration for the slightest infraction (or appeared infraction) against gays, HRC (and other gay groups) are reluctant to criticize anti-gay abuses in anti-American regimes. While I also find (that on those occasions when I read his blog) Andrew seems eager as well to fault the Administration, his post on the Russian march addresses anti-gay attitudes (& policies) of non-Republicans. It’s too bad that the gay establishment is so focused on President Bush that it barely has time to address dangerous anti-gay attitudes from those who are not their domestic ideological adversaries.
And while some of those adversaries do harbor anti-gay sentiments, Eugene Volokh (via Instapundit) offers some statistics which should offer to comfort to American gays. While one poll showed that 43% of Russians (in 2005) thought gays should be incarcerated, only 33% of Americans (in 1998) though gay sex between consenting adults should be illegal. Indeed, Talgat Tadzhuddin, the Mufti who warned that “Russia’s Muslims would stage violent protests if the march went ahead” also “criticized riots over the Mohammed cartoons.” Although this Mufti finds that “harming innocent people is banditry” he feels, according to Volokh, that “flogging homosexuals is just fine.” Even some of the more moderate Muslim leaders abroad are not favorably disposed to gay people.
That Russian authorities would cancel this gay march shows that while things are not yet as good as they can be for gays in the United States (and other Western nations) that we still have it pretty good. We can march freely in cities even in the “reddest” of states. When we make local authorities aware of threats to our parades (and protests), they send in the police, not to close down our gatherings, but to protect our First Amendment rights (of freedom of speech and association).
In his post, Andrew warns that “self-censorship is a slippery slope.” That seems to be not just a warning to authorities in nations not as free as ours, but also to gay groups who often seem unwilling to offend other “oppressed” groups — even those harboring hateful anti-gay sentiments.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
ADDENDUM: We saw something similar in China two months ago when police there closed down a gay cultural festival.