Gay rights groups support Irish musician’s boycott

Violinist Keith Pascoe declines invitation to attend Moscow event over country’s anti-gay laws

 

Musician Keith Pascoe has been praised by Irish gay rights groups for withdrawing from a music event in Russia to highlight laws allowing “homophobic bullying”.

Mr Pascoe was set to lead RTÉ’s Vanbrugh Quartet to the Russian-Irish festival in Moscow this December, but will not now be attending.

In a statement, Mr Pascoe said he would not be attending after contemplating the invitation with colleagues.

“Being gay myself I felt this the best way to highlight the pernicious laws that are in force now: a license for homophobic bullying in schools and a green light to gaybashers all over Russia,” he said.

“I think many musicians will sooner or later realise what serious consequences these laws will have on Russians and on the safety of visiting LGBT people, whether musicians or not.”

Despite this, Mr Pascoe said it was important to maintain a good relationship with the festival, so asked for another violinist to replace him.

Recent laws passed in Russia ban “homosexual propaganda” and “non-traditional” sexual relationships among minors with the threat of criminal prosecution.

Mr Pascoe’s decision was hugely significant, according to Action for Russia spokesman Derrick Howard.

“What it will do is it will encourage people to do the same. It was a brave step and it will draw awareness to what is going on in Russia,” Mr Howard said.

“The two main things our group is trying to do now are lobby international organisations and politicians - especially Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore - and protest. Our big protest will be outside the Russian embassy in Dublin on September 8th.”

Mr Howard said Mr Pascoe is part of a growing list of people speaking out against Russia, including author and television presenter Stephen Fry and actor Wentworth Miller.

LGBT Noise spokesman Max Krzyzanowski also welcomed Mr Pascoe’s move, saying current laws in Russia are a green light for blatant homophobia.

“He has made a very important move and has done what is needed, which is to raise awareness about these deeply disturbing laws.”

Mr Krzyzanowski said there is an “epidemic” of videos being posted online by young neo-Nazis who set up false dates with young gay men.

The videos show young men being beaten, humiliated or kidnapped.