Two gay Russian men tried on Tuesday to get married in Moscow to call attention to discrimination against gays and lesbians, but they were turned away by authorities who told them marriage is a union between a man and a woman, reports Agence France-Presse. Edvard Murzin, a deputy from the region of Bashkortostan, and Eduard Mishin, who edits the Internet site Gay.ru and the Kvir newspaper, handed in a marriage declaration to Moscow City Hall.
After their attempt was turned down with the argument that the Russian family code restricts marriage to a union between a woman and a man, they went on the air at a local radio station to explain their motivation. "We do not love each other, but we want to see the establishment of justice. We share the same ideas and are united in the fight for justice," Mishin told Moscow Echo.
Admitting that they were actually creating a negative image for themselves, Mishin said they had decided to go to City Hall because "if we don't do it, society will never do it." Many Russian gays, he added, believe the country is not ready for same-sex marriages, as practiced in Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands. "Why should one wait until society is ready? It's not certain that society will become more tolerant with time; the opposite could actually happen," he said.
Both men vowed to take their case to court, if necessary, or all the way to the supreme court or even the European Court of Human Rights. Murzin lamented what he said is an increase in Russia of hate crimes against people who are "different," asserting that "nontraditional members of society have the same rights as others." He had tried to get the family code of Bashkortostan changed to include same-sex marriages, while Mishin had put a personal ad on his Web site looking for a fiance. Failing to get a response, Mishin decided to try to get married to Murzin. "I am disappointed by the Russian homosexual community.... People are not ready to fight for their rights and support us. They are worried that the article in the penal code which makes homosexuality a crime will be restored."