May 31, 2006

See you in Tehran, Volker!

Last Saturday, Russian police, nationalist protesters and Orthodox Christians violently prevented gay and lesbian rights activists from rallying in Moscow.

This hit the headlines specifically hard here, because Volker Beck, a leading Green party member and member of the Bundestag, the national German parliament, was notably involved.

A brouhaha started when the crowd opposed to gay rights, including headscarfed women who held up religious icons, men in Cossack traditional dress and nationalist extremists met head-on with the gay rights activists.

While Volker Beck was giving a TV interview at the rally scene, about 20 nationalist youths surrounded him and punched him in his face, bloodying his nose. Beck accuses the Russian security forces now of having left him without any protection.

While homosexuality is officially not actionable anymore since 1993 in Russia, the rally was not officially authorised.

Predictably, the debate was hijacked by the it's-all-the-Nazis'-fault faction here and another member of the Bundestag, Andreas Schockenhoff, Russia expert of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) kicked off a minor avalanche of righteous indignation, including but not limited to, his own party, when he accused Beck of violating the "rules of the game" in Russia and that he, Beck, was only seeking attention by participating in the demonstration.

Women in headscarves, men in Cossack dresses -- that doesn't sound like the average neo-Nazi-skinhead type which seems to be the only variety of evildoer the media here seem to discern. However, it does not need an expert on that country's affairs to understand that Russian society is, IS BOUND TO BE, steeped deeply in pre-democratic traditions and that they lack the Western refinement to "tolerate" something that even pushes the borders of tolerance here.

I don't know what the participants in the rally were wearing. Maybe not those stomach-turning outfits one knows from so-called "gay parades" in Western cities, but still, the reaction of the Russian public was not exactly a surprise, or was it?

Not to speak of the reaction from the authorities in a country that can be described as "pseudo-democracy" at best.

I think now the customary, or rather compulsory, disclaimer is in order: I have nothing against gays. As far as I am concerned, everything two grown-up people do behind closed doors is their own business. But that is where it begins and where it ends.

I do NOT want to have their sexuality forced on me, as I do not want to have forced other people's heterosexual sexuality forced on me either, but "hetero parades" are not all THAT en vogue yet, or are they? I find it objectionable that this is sold as "just another" lifestyle. I find the public promotion of aggression, exhibitionism, violence and voyeurism connected to sexuality objectionable. I find it objectionable (and I am refraining from showing a picture here for obvious reasons) that people who are strutting their stuff in skin-tight leather pants that expose the buttocks are trying to make us believe that they can be good family men. I find it objectionable that for the sake of political correctness the law protecting minors is being abandoned. And most of all I find it objectionable, hypocritical and deeply wrong that a case is declared sacrosanct, including all its excrescences, simply because it is persecuted somewhere else or had once been persecuted by us. The fact that something was liable to prosecution and incurred a severe retribution under Nazi-rule does not make it automatically a good and noble cause.

Bad conscience is a bad adviser.

Beck is back in the meantime, proudly announcing that he is craving for a punch on the nose from a Polish beefcake's fist next.

Blood quickly stanched, he then ought to echo his fellow-Greens admiration for Iran, for example, Angelika Beer's, German Greens MEP who thinks that Iran is "a fascinating country with a young well-educated society" or Hans Christian Ströbele's who thinks that Iran has the right of using nuclear technology and that, if Iran is banned from having nukes, Israel ought to be too, and stage a pro-gay-rights rally in Tehran.

But I have a hunch he won't.